A chance for our county to catch up

It’s not often that a community is offered the opportunity to vote on two different referendums. You may not agree with my theory of choosing to look at these two questions as opportunities. Isn’t that what is so great about our wonderful country? We have countless freedoms, endless opportunities and the ability to vote and choose who or what we feel is most important. 

You’re being asked to vote on allowing a casino in Vigo County and allowing a small yet significant property tax increase to fund an operating balance for eight calendar years. When is the last time you traveled outside of Vigo County and heard someone say, “I moved to Terre Haute because?” Or “We should go to Terre Haute because?” We have great museums, yes. We have four outstanding higher education universities. We have the Coca-Cola bottle. We have things to build from, sure. 

One thing we have not had in a long time is an explosive job creator. A major tourism attraction that will draw in people not once or twice a year, but every weekend. Hundreds of construction jobs, thousands of dollars spent on food and beverages, hotels and increased tax revenue. This private investment is not abatable, meaning the person making the investment will pay property taxes. Including an increased property tax toward the Vigo County School Corp., if it’s passed. 

Over the past five to 10 years, we have lost a huge portion of our workforce. From layoffs to big businesses simply closing. Terre Haute is in need of an economic boom. Whether you are a gambler or not, you should be a rational person and realize our community is suffering and could use a boost. As your county councilman, I will watch over the tax dollars dispersed to the county and assure you, they will be used for purposes such as quality of life attractions, roads or anything beneficial to us all. 

As for the question regarding our schools. One thing a community can definitely market to outside businesses is a great educational system. If people are potentially looking to invest in Terre Haute, they need and want a quality education system. Our children are the most important things in our life. I am thankful for educators, faculty, counselors, school protection officers and all administrative staff. Without them, our students wouldn’t be successful, educated, well-mannered, and above all else, safe. 

Times are changing, states are changing. State funding is changing. Educators are often more in debt than what they get paid as a first-year teacher. For these reasons and many more, I ask that you join me in voting yes on question 1 and 2 on the ballot. 

It’s time we catch up with a quickly growing Indiana economy and tell the rest of the state, “See you in Terre Haute.”

— Chris Switzer, Vigo County Council, West Terre Haute

Assessing the mayoral field

The result of our impending mayoral race will determine the future of Terre Haute. I am a concerned resident of this community, and below I offer perceptions of the candidates.

1. Duke Bennett: The Republican incumbent.

In the Bible, people who greedily focus on economic self-interest are described as followers of the God of Mammon. Trump and the Republican Party symbolize the politics of mammon. Their policies have coldly and indifferently turned their backs on the God of Love who commands followers to reduce the suffering of the poor. What, then, should we make of the fact that two local labor unions — police and firefighters — have endorsed the Republican candidate for mayor? Have local union leaders made a self-interested pact with the devil by backing a political party that — via support for the Citizens United decision and union-busting “Right to Work” laws — opposes the interests of the working poor? Let’s set the record straight: most union leaders in the USA reject the religious and moral legitimacy of Republican mammon.

2. Karrum Nasser: Democratic Challenger and the mega-jail.

County jails are typically the most expensive item on the ledger of U.S. counties. Due to the “Incarceration Crisis,” county jails often are filled with needy members of local communities: the poor, the unemployed, the mentally ill, racial minorities, and drug addicts. In other countries, jails are much smaller because these people are not incarcerated but diverted to social services. When constructed, the incarceration rate of Vigo County’s mega-jail will be than eight times larger than rates of incarceration in most democracies.

In words and action, Mr. Nasser facilitated the construction of a wastefully large and expensive mega-jail. In his capacity as a city councilperson, he cast a key vote facilitating its construction. What makes this vote symbolic is Mr. Nasser’s tone-deafness to the majority of Terre Haute citizens who oppose the mega-jail, because it is immoral, racist and financially unwise. Our city cannot afford the failed social policies of mass incarceration.

3. The Independent: Pat Goodwin and respectful listening.

I was pleased that the Tribune-Star endorsed Mr. Goodwin and made specific mention of his capacity to listen to new ideas. Mr. Goodwin took a risk by foregoing traditional party affiliations and declaring himself an Independent. This risk included social rewards. Mr. Goodwin freed himself from party dogmas. This freedom is indicated by his sincere openness to new ideas. For example, he is the only candidate who has publicly expressed skepticism about the need for a mega-jail.

Furthermore, Mr. Goodwin’s success as a small businessperson and civic experiences as a city planner are important forms of experiential knowledge that the other candidates lack. Let’s be honest. Fiscal matters have been in serious disarray under Mayor Bennett’s leadership and civic plans for a better future have been in short supply. Mr. Goodwin would be a dramatic upgrade of civic and fiscal leadership.

Despite the shocking degradation of moral standards during the Trump era, I still believe that character means something. As a concerned citizen, I contacted Mr. Goodwin and he met with me to discuss the possibility, if elected, of investing in blighted neighborhoods and job training programs in Terre Haute. He was very receptive and respectful. Although we are not friends, I have also observed Mr. Goodwin in private settings. In terms of character, civic experience and values, Mr. Goodwin is clearly the best candidate.

— Ralph Leck, Terre Haute 

Green ideas for long-term plans

I am writing to you about the Chamber of Commerce/City of Terre Haute/Vigo County/Convention and Visitors Bureau new “See You In Terre Haute” Community Plan 2025.

I’ve seen this plan, both online and getting a copy from the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce back in August. Credit where credit is due, there are some good items in this, mainly dealing with the infrastructure portion.

However, overall, I think we as a community can do better. Basically, this feels like what was done by Terre Haute Tomorrow’s community plan and the “Terre Haute: A Level Above” initiative, but with relying too much on making Terre Haute a tourism economy, which is better as a short-term solution, but when your economy has a median income of $36-42K — making it one of the poorest counties in the state — it’s not a good long-term sustainable solution, especially when events are trending more toward the online market these days.

Instead, like many of my Green colleagues, my vision is based on what is commonly referred to as the “Green New Deal” (more at www.gp.org/green_new_deal) and supporting local businesses as much as possible before we even think about relying on the outside market. A few suggestions of what I personally advocate for are as follows:

• Getting state government or businesses to increase the minimum wage to no less than $15-20/hr. and adjusting those to inflation (giving consumers more money to buy products, pay bills, and/or invest in this community);

• Renewable energy by 2030, with implementing Just Transition for employees, similar to what NIPSCO, Vectren, Benton and Sullivan counties are trying to do or are doing, and;

• Repurposing buildings into worker-controlled Green industry buildings if possible, along with planting trees or community gardens along the Wabash River, instead of Riverscape’s plan.

These are some ideas I hope people would consider. Nonetheless, I wish everyone else well on Nov. 5 and going forward.

— Sarah Dillon, Green Party candidate

City Council, District 2, Terre Haute

Appreciation for support of March

On Aug. 26 the League of Women Voters of Vigo County hosted an event celebrating the 99th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. This Amendment came to fruition on Aug. 26, 1920, due to the hard work, hardship and sacrifice of the many men and women who believed in this great cause. The March on Aug. 26 honoring this historical event could not have been achieved without the help of many individuals and organizations.

The League of Women Voters of Vigo County would like to begin by thanking our steering committee Bionca Gambill, Crystal Reynolds, Marsha Miller, Jennifer Todd and SP Barbara Battista. These women worked diligently to make the March a success.

We would like to thank Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis, and Indiana State University staff, ISU Cunningham Memorial Library, and ISU Multidisciplinary Studies Department for help in hosting the event.

The following speakers helped inspire our attendees at this year’s March. Thank you to Mayor Duke Bennett for his welcoming remarks, Jason Collins presenting Fredrick Douglas’ speech on equality, Dana Black, Nancy Rogers and Lynn Hughes.

This year the League had two contests to celebrate the event. Along with the poster contest there was an umbrella contest. Yellow umbrellas were decorated by various organizations ,and posters were made by March attendees. The colors of yellow, white and purple, being the colors of the Suffrage Movement, were highlighted in the March. Alia Blackburn of WTHI was the moderator of the contests. Prizes were presented to contest winners for best posters and decorated umbrellas.

The Women’s Equality Day March would not have been possible without the generosity of the many donors to the March. We would like to thank ISU Credit Union, Nellie Simbol Law PC, Bionca Gambill, Paitson and Son, Smock & Etling Law Office, City Councilman at-Large George Azar, City Council Candidate Martha Crossen, Grand Traverse Pie Co., Books-A-Million, Wabash Valley Fabrics, City Council candidate Tammy Boland, Vigo County Commissioner Brad Anderson, AAUW of the Wabash Valley, Terre Haute Mayoral Candidate Pat Goodwin, Wabash Valley Chapter of Southern Indiana Regional Labor Council, Eric Frey, Bill and Teresa Treash, Barbara L. Brugnaux, Baesler’s Market, Ritter’s Frozen Custard, Lucia’s Prom and Jim’s Tux, and Repeat Boutique. Thank you Tribune-Star, WTHI and WTWO for their coverage of the event. A special thank you to Kroger North manager, Jon Malone, for the donation of the yellow roses. The yellow rose, being the symbol of the Suffrage Movement, were presented to the voters attending the March.

Lastly, the League of Women Voters of Vigo County would like to thank all the citizens that came to celebrate with us, and to honor those individuals that made the right for women to vote a reality. We hope to see everyone in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. Most importantly you can honor the memory of all those who sacrificed for your right to vote by voting in every election. Our democracy is in your hands.

— Carolyn Callecod, president, League of Women Voters of Vigo County 

More context on immigration issue

The Flashpoint column in the Oct. 27 issue of your newspaper requires a response. 

Mr. Lee Hamilton states in his very first paragraph that Mr. Trump is opposed to immigration because “the country is full.” I believe the context is very important to the issue. Mr. Trump was referring to the massive influx of illegal immigrants flooding our southern border. Many are claiming asylum as the reason for trying to get in the country. 

It does not take a rocket scientist to determine that the millions of people flooding in this country in recent history have created massive problems in many communities. Mr. Hamilton then devotes almost all of his column to discussing legal immigration and pats himself on the back for voting for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. How that fits into this discussion makes no sense. I do not believe that Republicans are opposed to legal immigration, nor is Mr. Trump, as Mr. Hamilton implies in his statement that “There was a time when both parties … supported immigration.” 

The Democrats have been in the forefront of abetting illegal immigration for years and this column continues the support for the issue. I would welcome the day that the House would take up meaningful legislation on improving the process of receiving more legal immigrants into the country. From what I have seen is they are more interested in impeaching Mr. Trump instead of passing useful legislation.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hamilton laments the lack of bipartisanship on the immigration issue but his column does nothing to provide support to the cause.

— Raymond E. Broshar, Terre Haute

III

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