Are you ready for a disaster
Since we’ve just come off the most brutal winter in decades, most of you are probably relaxing in anticipation of a kinder, gentler spring. But don’t relax too much – we’re also heading into the season of potential disasters. That includes entirely predictable disasters – such as flooding and tornadoes – and ones nobody sees coming, such as gas explosions and UFO invasions.
And most of you aren’t ready. Furthermore, you think the first responders charged with helping you are more ready than they are. According to a new survey from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, 51 percent of Hoosiers believe emergency personnel would be able to arrive at their residences within six hours of a widespread disaster. But department spokesman John Erickson says it could take up to three days for emergency responders to help all affected residents.
Too much going on in the caucus
Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made, said John Godfrey Saxe in a quip later falsely attributed to Otto von Bismarck. That quote is remembered, noted an editorial in The Guardian two years ago, “because so many legislators act as if their craft is best carried away from public view.”
Amen, Hoosiers are surely tempted to say this year. They got a peek behind the lawmaking curtain during this session of the General Assembly and discovered two things: 1) A lot of very important stuff goes on there and, 2) the public isn’t allowed to know any of it.
There is this legislative institution known as a “caucus,” which under normal circumstances is a justifiable private meeting among party members. But these are not normal times.
Good session for home rule
Indiana only reluctantly gives up power to city and county governments, taking one step back for every two forward on home rule. So it must be said that the just-concluded session of the General Assembly was a pretty good one for advocates of greater local control.
Voters in Allen County will be able to have a referendum on whether to keep the current form of government or go to one elected commissioner instead of three and a nine-member County Council with legislative powers. Voters in the six counties of greater Indianapolis will get to decide whether to spend money to expand mass transit. And all 92 counties will get to decide whether to keep or abandon the tax on business equipment.
Perhaps this would be a good time for city, county and state officials to discuss the future of home rule.
Let's do better than 37th place
Allen County came in at 37th out of 92 in the annual ranking of healthy Indiana counties compiled by the Robert Weed Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Health Institute.
The obvious point to make is that at least we weren’t in the bottom three. But we weren’t in the top three, either. We can do better.
In one sense, such rankings are pointless. Unless there’s something as awful as a radioactive cloud hanging over part of the state, it doesn’t matter which county you live in. Depending on the genes you were born with and how well you take care of the body they’re in, you’re going to survive about the same amount of time in Lake County as you would in Brown County.
But such a list is a useful reminder of the things we should pay attention to.
Turning point for college athletes?
The world pretended the Olympics were for amateurs long after it became obvious that some countries gave their athletes a state-funded free pass for life. At least we’ve turned that corner – hail the Dream Team! – and can now focus on just what the games do mean. Writes Will Braun: “The goal of ‘Olympian,’ says the Olympic Charter, is to ‘contribute to building a peaceful and better world.’ Who could argue? But what does ski jumping have to do with a better world? How is a fist-pumping, adulated athlete at the bottom if a snowy half pipe contributing to peace?”
Are we nearing a similar turning point in our attitudes about college athletics? Perhaps. In a move that seemed to stun the sports world, regional National Labor Relations Board director Peter Sung Ohr ruled that Northwestern University football players have the right to unionize.