Meanwhile, Back Home in Indiana….

It’s admittedly hard to take our eyes off the monumental train wreck in the nation’s capital, with each day bringing additional evidence that America as we have known it is being systematically dismantled– but things aren’t so reassuring on the home front, either.

The newly energized wing-nuts who populate our state legislature are proposing bills to criminalize abortion and allow unrestricted, unlicensed gun ownership. (“Step right up, ladies, gentlemen, psychopaths, domestic batterers… Here’s a lethal weapon for you, no questions asked…”)

Of course, Hoosiers are used to seeing our state lawmakers focus on social issues at the expense of humdrum things like infrastructure repair and job creation. In Indiana, it is at the municipal level, in the cities, where the genuine work of government must be done.

Case in point: The Indiana Business Journal recently reported on the extent of poverty that co-exists with the more visible prosperity in the City of Indianapolis.

  • From 2000 to 2014, the percentage of the population below the poverty level swelled 80 percent, from 11.9 percent to 21.4 percent.
  • From 1999 to 2014, inflation-adjusted household incomes fell at least 10 percent in 75 percent of the city’s census tracts. Inflation-adjusted incomes fell at least 30 percent in 48 percent of the tracts. In contrast, only 5.9 percent of tracts reported an increase in inflation-adjusted household incomes.

As the IBJ editorialized, addressing our pockets of poverty will take a concerted push and the involvement of many stakeholders in business, education, government and the not-for-profit community.

As the editorial also noted, that involvement–and that stakeholder collaboration–is underway. Mayor Hogsett’s initiative, EmployIndy, is focusing on assisting low- and mid-skilled workers with a mix of job training and career planning that should improve their employment prospects . The Central Indiana Community Partnership is increasing the reach of Ascend Indiana, an initiative that connects employers with skilled workers and helps with training to provide workers with those needed skills.

Then there’s the recently approved transit referendum—which clears the way for the City-County Council to impose an income tax to improve bus service. Right now, only 33 percent of Marion County jobs can be reached via transit in 90 minutes—a huge impediment to improving the job prospects of the unemployed and underemployed.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I will refrain from predicting the success or failure of this coordinated effort, but I will state what should be obvious: this is the way issues are addressed in a rational society.

The nature and extent of a problem should be established by credible research. Research and analysis should identify barriers to solving the problem–in this case, inadequate education or skills, lack of transportation to job sites, and lack of access to information about jobs. Co-ordinated public and private efforts should then be directed at removing the identified barriers.

This approach relies upon a consensus that poverty negatively affects everyone in a community, not just those who are in need, and upon a recognition that there are no magic bullets or bumper-sticker solutions–that ameliorating poverty will take time, resources and hard work.

What a contrast to the approaches being promoted by the “lunatic caucuses” of both the U.S. Congress and Indiana Statehouse, and by the incoming Executive branch clown show. Both are populated by people who consider research “elitist” and knowledge unnecessary, who prefer privatizing/contracting out to the hard work required by partnerships with responsible private-sector organizations, and who consistently privilege ideology over evidence.

We have spoiled toddlers running state and federal offices, but at least adults run the cities.


  1. Those running the cities are usually responsible to their constituents. At the state and federal levels, gerrymandering has done away with that. Once in, they usually can stay in office as long as they wish.

  2. The “spoiled toddlers” in the General Assembly run rampant with ridiculous laws that run contrary to the political views of the majority of the people in Indiana. Take Rep. Jim Lucas of House district 69 for example. He consistently brings up legislation to reduce any and all regulations on guns and is promoting the current move to eliminate any licensing to carry a gun in Indiana. In the 2016 session he introduced legislation( HB1055) that would allow guns in any state supported agency or institution or in lay terms, guns in schools, colleges, hospitals and even courts. The mere thought of guns carried openly in a classroom or court conjures up scenarios of everything that could go wrong. (Thankfully, the bill was sent to committee in the last session by more mature House members) Jim Lucas throws tantrums in committee hearings, on the House floor and in all kinds of public forums like 3rd House meetings; and he is the King of social media food fights that make him look like the petty, immature legislator that his is. The worst part is that his southern Indiana district that combines the town of Seymour with the sparsely populated areas of surrounding counties, guarantees Lucas as seat in the House for as long as Bosma and Company are willing to put up with him. Jim Lucas is one of the many “spoiled toddlers” Sheila speaks of that do not know how to participate in good government.

  3. Would you consider doing a column on how poverty affects everyone in the community? I think there are really smart, well-informed people who may think that poverty only has an impact on those with low incomes and that “those poor people” and not the city as a whole live with the consequences.

  4. Theresa Kendall; my uncle, Don Davis of Don’s Guns, lobbied for years (1980’s – 1990’s) for the same requirements to purchase “long guns” as were required to purchase handguns here. There were NO requirements to purchase rifles, shotguns, military level weapons other than cash or valid credit card. He also lobbied against the outright purchase of weapons at gun shows and would appear to hand out his business cards at these shows till security escorted him out the door…which they always did.

    Instead, Indiana lowered their requirements to purchase handguns and there are still no requirements (other than cash or valid credit card) to purchase “long guns”. Don gave up his battle and returned to selling as many guns as customers demanded and made a few more million dollars. Don was often blamed as being an accessory (not legally, but publicly) for robberies and deaths when guns were traced back to original purchase from his shops. Blame has never been, and probably will never be, traced back to the lack of common sense regarding gun ownership in this state and others.

    President Obama spoke months ago about the high murder and crime rate in Chicago and other parts of Illinois with purchase of guns traced back to Indiana gun dealers. So; our lax laws, soon to be even more lax, appears to be the source of crime and murders in other states – let’s not forget our historic number of murders here in Indianapolis this year.

  5. JoAnn, I agree that there are many who make a living selling or using guns that invoke common sense in their political ideology about firearms, but Rep. Lucas does not. He is among a long list of legislators that as Sheila stated some time ago “do not want to govern, they only want to rule.”

    Redistricting, improving voter registration and access to polling sites, controlling the money in campaigns and improving civic education in our public schools are some of the issues we need to work on to rid our state government of these people that do not know how to do the job their were elected for; or in many districts, appointed to. It will require all of us to work on these issues that effect our state government to get more parity in our representatives that will reflect the population of Indiana instead of the ideology of a few.

  6. Since many are writing about our lax gun laws, I seem to recall that there was a bill (or at least a suggestion) that would also allow guns into the State House. I believe the legislators immediately struck down that idea. Wonder why they did, if they feel guns would be safe everywhere else.

    Correct me if I am wrong – wasn’t this actually considered in the last session?

  7. I read recently that 27 out of 30 of America’s biggest cities have Democratic mayors and that states have 33 Republican governors, which of course sets the stage for friction since cities have their problems with transportation, poverty etc. and are trying to devise progressive ways and means to solve or at least alleviate such problems, and states are for the most part in another ideological world. The problem for urban progressives is that counties and municipalities are subdivisions of the state and thus subject to legislative and executive whim as expressed in legislation in addition to their power of the purse.
    We have seen such collisions between states and their subdivisions where urban progressives pass ordinances approving use of medicinal marijuana, setting minimum wages and coming up with programs to help the poor etc. only to see state legislatures reverse such local exercises of power and pass further legislation prohibiting such exercises, and (though typical), it’s not just a Republican show of power.
    The very progressive Democratic mayor of New York City is active in local taxing, building housing for the poor etc., and is getting into catfights with the Democratic governor of New York State over expansion of local ordinances into areas thought to be of state rather than local concern, among other reasons. Yet Seattle and Washington State (both Democratic) are in perfect harmony on the matter of minimum wage, for instance, and when Seattle set a minimum wage of $15 per hour, not a peep was heard from Olympia. (Parenthetically, I find New York City to be of particular interest in this power-sharing connection because the city generates more economic activity than 46 of our states due to its role as our financial center and has a municipal workforce of 340,000, astounding numbers in their own right.)
    Indiana represents an extreme version of the power struggle in which cave thinking and progressive thinking collide, and at least as of now those in the cave have the statutory and constitutional advantage. Hence we see public monies used to inculcate religious education, edicts surrounding the use of toilets, gross limitations on women’s reproductive rights and other such intolerable invasions of the basic rights of citizens.
    The obvious answer to solution of such cave thought is not in attempting to make constitutional or statutory changes since such even under the best of circumstances take too long; the answer is to somehow change the personnel in the state legislature and the governor’s chair, a formidable but not impossible task that will take time as well, but we are where we are, so let’s get started.

  8. All I can say AGAIN is that if you’ll want to turn this horrible mess around, you better have some mighty momentum going before January 20th.

    I’m reminded of the song that everyone sang at the end of the third quarter at the football games when I was attending the University of Pennsylvania in the 50’s:

    Drink a highball at nightfall,
    Be good fellows while you may,
    For tomorrow might bring sorrow,
    So tonight let’s all be gay [before the 20th of January, 2017].

    Tell the story of glory of Penn-syl-va-ni-a [and A-mer-i-ca],
    So drink a highball at nightfall and be good fellows [and gals]while you may.

    Life isn’t all about being fair. The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin. During my junior year, I lost being elected co-captain of the winnigest team in Penn history by one vote. My son-of-bitch opponent cheated in order to win.

    So I learned very early about cheating. Donald Trump is a cheater. I hope everyone has learned their lesson. I learned mine.

  9. Gerald,

    “…the answer is to somehow change the personnel in the state legislature and the governor’s chair, a formidable but not impossible task that will TAKE TIME AS WELL, but we are where we are, so let’s get started.”

    You don’t have the luxury of time.

  10. Marv; I have learned, like you, through life experiences and the benefits (few) or consequences (many) of my decisions that education is expensive…and life is continuing education. I see no way out of our current political/presidential circumstances and I do not see a full recovery for this country whichever way the Electoral College goes on December 19th. People are forgetting that, if they cannot reach a decision, the decision goes to our REPUBLICAN Congress to make the decision for this nation. Catching and exposing those who cheat never seems to change the outcome.

    Those “pockets of poverty” referred to which, indeed do need “a concerted push and the involvement of many stakeholders in business, education, government and the not-for-profit community.” also seem to be “pockets of armed criminal element individuals”. All weapons are expensive; of course the law abiding gun owners don’t make the news so maybe my observation has no basis in fact but…where are they getting the guns in the “pockets of poverty”?

  11. JoAnn,

    “Catching and exposing those who cheat never seems to change the outcome.”

    You’re right. However, when it comes to Donald Trump there’s a big difference. He’s cheating everyone, including those who have voted for him.

  12. Marv; this morning I switched to “Morning Joe”, again hoping for some news other than Trump verbiage…but no luck. The subject was the Trump “salvation” of Carrier and the response from their United Steelworkers Union president, Chuck Jones, who stated on CNN that Trump lied. Trump naturally Tweeted his views as Jones was speaking; now Mr. Jones is receiving threats against himself and his family. The latest report is that 1,000 were NOT saved by Trump due to the fact that over 500 of those will be phased out over this coming year. Joe’s comment was that “…his (Trump’s) people like it when he strikes back…”. Joe then said, “I’m not saying it’s good or bad.” Why the hell is he not saying it IS BAD; Trump’s lies have been exposed repeatedly since shortly after his great media event at Carrier with Pence lavishing praise on his leader. Joe; a former Republican Representative obviously voted for him and is bucking for a place on his cabinet. Mika sat mute; knowing her place as a woman – like a child being seen but not heard.

  13. Marv – What is the alternative to the “luxury of taking time” to effect change? You may have correctly set out the problem, but what is your proposed solution?

  14. Gerald,

    “Marv…You may have correctly set out the problem, but what is your proposed solution?”

    JoAnn proposed the solution yesterday: “Some of us are paying individual organizations with membership dues, signing petitions and surveys to take action on our behalf; wouldn’t they have more force if they organized as individual members of one “corporation”…such as United Technologies, Corp. and the Carrier miscarriage of justice here? Just askin’”

    You have to create a STALEMATE with a LEGITIMATE COUNTERVAILING FORCE. An example of an EMERGENCY COUNTERVAILING FORCE is the one created in the book “Fail Safe” co-authored by my partner Harvey Wheeler and later made into a movie classic.

    stale’mate’ n. [<OFr estal, fixed location] l. Chess any situation in which a player cannot move: It results in a draw 2. Any deadlock–vt. -mat'ed, -mat'ing to bring into a stalemate

  15. JoAnn 10:59. Your comment on MSNBC and the never ending coverage of the Trumpet reminded me of my college days back in the early 1970’s.

    Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame came to our college on a speaking tour. This was after the original Star Trek had been cancelled, but before Star Trek New Generation. Roddenberry spoke about his many fights with Net Work Executives about Star Trek. Roddenberry saw Star Trek as cutting edge for it’s time both in terms of science and social relationships. The Network Executives were determined to dumb down Star Trek.

    Roddenberry out lined Net Work and Hollywood thinking. He spoke about the very successful Planet of the Apes movie. The theme he said was the fight between science and belief. Scientific inquiry in the movie was revealing the humans were not an inferior species. A shocking revelation. Of course the prevailing belief was humans were inferior. Those that rejected the science were alarmed and threatened by the effect on their belief system and the turmoil it would cause to ape society to accept humans as intelligent.

    Roddenberry said the take away for the Networks and Hollywood was not the underlying story of science vs belief and that struggle, but Apes, Apes the people want Apes in movies. So, we had a series of Planet of the Apes movies.

    FOX, CNN, and MSNBC decided we wanted Trump, Trump, and more Trump. The Networks wait in anticipation of the next Trump Tweet.

    From what I have read Megyn Kelly of FOX News has had to hire security to protect her as she is being deluged with threats. You may remember she was critical of Trump denigrating woman. “I’ve been under armed guard for 16 months and my children have been under armed guard and it’s not an appropriate price to pay for hard-hitting journalism.”

    Anyone who crosses Trump should remember, how he operates via tweets, etc., – “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.” Meaning >> The military order Havoc! was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare’s parlance ‘the dogs of war’) to pillage and chaos.

  16. Marv; thank you for your support and I have the perfect title for this organization of organizations, Council Of More Rational American Democratic Electorate (COMRADE)…or maybe not.

    I just really believe we are screwed at this point; have let things go for too long, never believing this country could actually be bought and paid for by the 1%. We made a mistake believing we had held them off when we elected President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. We might have the hope that, like the Confederate States of America, the GOP with this Trump move has bled the plantation owners dry and this is their last triumphant battle and we can win the war in 2020.

    Does anyone out there know why we have not received our Social Security and Medicare statements for 2017? Can Ryan have that much control before Trump is even inaugurated? It appears to be the Medicare monthly premium holding things up; my 2017 “Medicare & You” came weeks ago with the changes but per their “What’s important in 2017″…”The 2017 Medicare premium and deductible amounts weren’t available at the time of printing.” They were always available in years past; but years past didn’t have Ryan at the helm.

  17. JoAnn,

    [Does anyone out there know why we have not received our Social Security and Medicare statements for 2017?]

    I received a letter from Social Security several weeks ago that contained this information. Social Security monthly direct deposit will increase a bit, and my monthly Medicare deduction remains the same as 2016.

  18. BSH; thanks, the people I have asked have not received their notices either. Who knows what is going on with the government right now.

  19. BSH; my friends got their statements yesterday, mine came today. SS went up $2.10 per month, Medicare went up $6.10 per month so my income in 2017 went DOWN $4.00 monthly. Scares me to think what 2018 will bring…or take away.

  20. Yes, let us address poverty in Indianapolis. How can we develop job programs for the marginally employable? How can we insure a living wage to those who are barely coping with life? Also let’s include retirees with no hope of extra money. I’m just a member of the middle class, but when I drive through poor neighborhoods everyday, I feel very distressed. There are so many homes that could use new roofs and windows – probably improved HVAC systems, too. But the people living there have only money for week to week expenses. I see the problems – who has the answers?

  21. It’s a toss-up. Do we organize around COMRADE, StandUpToPower, or is the answer….. both of them? Having been an artillery officer, I would use artillery theory as a metaphor to make my case in that you must have both a Fire Control Center + a forward observer in order to effectively hit the target, in this case, the COG (Center of Gravity) of White Power=Trump/Pence.

  22. Janet; there is an organization on the near east side, NESCO, who annually does free clean up/paint up/fix up of area homes for seniors, disabled, low income, etc. Why has this not been adapted to become a city-wide agency? Why is the basis of the CIB assistance designated for sports teams and arenas and entertainment and not betterment of this city. Brian Eason of the Star had an excellent series of articles, “Abandoned Indy” regarding the on-going, same old tax lien problem which maintains the thousands of abandoned homes and businesses which could be repaired/renovated/ reused to house low income families and small businesses.

    OK Pete; here I go again with a personal story. When I first moved back here from Florida I knowingly purchased a home which needed much cleaning and some repair work. The ceiling in the family room had inexpensive (cheap) styrofoam rectangle tiles, six of which needed to be replaced. Being a small job I began looking for someone local to do the work which I would pay for. Found no one so went to the John Boner Center asking if they knew of anyone who could do the work – which I would pay for. No help there so I discovered CAFE, I think at 42nd and Post Road. Explained my situation to Anne Marie (somebody) and that I wasn’t looking for a handout, wanted to pay, just didn’t want to get ripped off on the small job. She sent someone to check out my problem and called me back in; said he would do the job and they would pay for it. She then said it would cost $1,300…which I told her was a ripoff and I refused to sign the contact for the work. I told her I knew enough that $200 wold be overcharging. She was very upset at my refusal and asked why I was upset, it wasn’t my money. My response that is WAS my tax money upset her even more and I was escorted out after she walked away. When I later decided to sell, my realtor brought her boyfriend Kody, his tools and two packages or four styrofoam ceiling tiles. Each package cost $8; Kody unloaded tools, took down tiles, measured and cut and replaced all six and reloaded his truck in less than 90 minutes at no charge. $1,300 of our tax dollars? If this is being done in all city multi-service centers; I see where our tax dollars are being wasted and why the abandoned homes and buildings problem has escalated and continues to escalate causing middle-class areas to become those poor areas being neglected and the center for criminal activities.

    I wonder what the percentage of people in those poor, neglected neighborhoods want to maintain their homes but cannot afford today’s soaring prices by greedy businesses?

  23. Thanks JoAnn – I’m an eastsider, too. I checked out NESCO and see they have some good programs.

  24. The biggest reason for the fall in household income is that the size of households is shrinking. Individual income is actually up but household is down because of dramatic increase in single parent households

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