Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers
The (Munster) Times. August 13, 2019
Legal system coddles defendant who crashed car into stroller, injuring kids
Imagine walking your children in what is supposed to be a quiet residential neighborhood.
You're pushing your 18-month-old daughter in her stroller. Your 5-year-old son is right there with you as well.
Then all hell barrels around the bend and into your life in the form of a car speeding in a residential zone.
The car jumps the sidewalk and slams into the stroller, ripping both children from your hands.
Kevin Foy doesn't have to imagine what that is like. He lived it last year in the 9600 block of White Oak Avenue in Munster.
And on Monday, he watched in a Lake County criminal courtroom as the conjurer of the nightmare, Nicholas C. Heppner-Lundin, received a slap on the wrist for a degree of recklessness that could have wiped out Foy's world.
It's a sad commentary on a justice system that is all-too-often soft on criminals who put our lives at risk.
The message delivered Monday by Lake County Judge Diane Boswell should be unacceptable to everyone, much less the parents of young children among us.
Thankfully, Foy's precious children survived. Quite horribly, Foy's daughter must now live with the untold effects of a traumatic brain injury and his young son with the hellish nightmares.
And for what?
Heppner-Lundin, 21, admitted to police he was out joyriding with friends when the utterly preventable tragedy occurred Aug. 18, 2018.
Heppner-Lundin had three passengers in his car that day, according to police: two 20-year-old Munster men and an 18-year-old Hammond woman.
The defendant told police he believed he approached a bend in the residential road at between 65 and 70 mph - more than 40 mph above the posted speed limit. Accident investigators estimate he was driving about 51 mph before the crash.
Heppner-Lundin also admitted he knew the vehicle's brakes were not good before the crash, police said.
And the 18-year-old passenger in his car told police Heppner-Lundin commented about how he wanted to see how the manual transmission was smoother and faster at high speeds because of the vehicle's turbo booster.
The evidence in this case stacks up to the six felony counts of criminal recklessness and three misdemeanor counts of reckless driving with which Heppner-Lundin initially was charged.
But that's not where the story ends.
Prosecutors cut a plea deal with the defendant, allowing him to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of reckless driving. On Monday, the judge saw fit to essentially let Heppner-Lundin off the hook with no real level of punishment.
The one-year jail sentence he could have faced was suspended. So he faces no jail time.
He'll serve that year on probation and must remain enrolled at Purdue University.
So a criminal defendant who put the lives of innocent people, including two children, on the cusp of ultimate peril gets to stay in school as part of his sentence.
The defendant expressed remorse at the Monday sentencing hearing.
He receives no points for that.
As his college classes resume this fall, we all should remember that two young children were nearly denied any chance of ever attending school - or doing anything else in life beyond the ages of 18 months and 5 years, respectively.
And we all must continue to ask when the punishments will begin fitting the crimes.
The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. August 15, 2019
A quarter is only a start
Indiana Legislative Insight, a political newsletter, recently noted a milestone. With Rep. Ann Vermilion's selection by a Republican caucus, the General Assembly boasts a record number of women - 37.
Don't break out the champagne yet. At 24.7%, female representation in the legislature lags the national average by more than four percentage points. Indiana fares well compared with the number of female lawmakers in Mississippi, Alabama and a handful of other mostly southern states. But it is a long way from top-ranked Nevada, where women hold a 52.4% majority, or Colorado, at 47%.
Vermilion, a former Marion General Hospital administrator, was elected by GOP precinct committee members to replace Rep. Kevin Mahan. Dollyne Sherman, who served as Gov. Bob Orr's press secretary, was tapped by Republican party officials in June. She replaces Rep. David Frizzell. The 100-member House now has 28 women - 17 Democrats and 11 Republicans. The 50-member Indiana Senate has just nine women - two Democrats and seven Republicans. GOP officials will hold another caucus on Sept. 9 to replace Sen. Randall Head, who resigned to become a deputy prosecutor, but the candidates so far are two men.
Indiana now ranks 36th among the states for female representation in the General Assembly. That's down from 23rd in 1995. Indiana's percentage of female representation has improved since then, but not nearly as much as some other states.
The Indiana General Assembly also has a dearth of female Republican leaders. Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, assistant president pro tem of the Senate, is the only female to hold a leadership post in the GOP caucus. Just three of the 13 House GOP caucus leaders are female. Leadership in the House Democratic Caucus is evenly split between men and women, and two of the five Senate Democratic leaders are women.
"We don't have enough women in the Statehouse. We don't have enough women as mayors. We don't have enough women leading at other levels of government," U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th, told participants of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series last year. The series, established in 1990 to increase the number of Republican women in elected office, has succeeded in preparing scores of women for local, state and national office, but election to the General Assembly continues to be a hurdle for Indiana Republican women.
More female legislative candidates might emerge from Hoosier Women Forward. Now in its second year, it is Indiana Democrats' equivalent of the Lugar series. The newly announced class includes Misti Meehan, chair of the Allen County Democratic Party, and Faith Van Gilder, a co-founder of Advancing Voices of Women (AVOW).
AVOW recently held its own nonpartisan Women's Campaign Institute, the second such event designed to prepare women for election bids. This year's class included at least one participant weighing a run for a state Senate seat in 2020.
Women from both parties should step up to run. Statehouse policy arguably has the greatest effect on Hoosiers' lives. It should be shaped by more than men.
The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. August 14, 2019
City should cut all ties with mayor's son
Let's say you're the head of an organization and an employee resigned after pleading guilty to drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
And it was an ugly scene.
Police found a loaded handgun in the employee's car, and he, reportedly, had no permit to carry the gun. According to police, he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and started a verbal confrontation with officers, threatening to sue them.
After the employee's guilty plea and resignation, would you, as head of the organization: (A) Cut ties with him? Or (B) Hire him as a contractor?
Almost certainly, you would want to disassociate your organization from the former employee, and you would choose option A.
But that's not how it works in Anderson city government, at least not when the troubled former employee's father is the mayor.
Evan Broderick, son of Mayor Tom Broderick, is the man in the scenario above. The incident happened in September 2018. A month later, Evan Broderick pleaded guilty and resigned as the city's assistant city attorney.
But the city continues to use him for legal representation. Tim Lanane, who is both the city attorney and the state senator representing Anderson, explained his rationale for retaining the younger Broderick in a news article published last week in The Herald Bulletin.
Evan Broderick, Lanane said, has continued to represent the city in four court cases he was working on before his resignation.
Speaking of one of the cases, Lanane said, "Evan has all the experience, has done the legal research and contacted the experts in the case. He was the best local attorney. It was in the best interest of the city."
For his work as a contractor on just two of the four cases, Evan Broderick has received nearly $13,000.
Lanane defended his decision to hire the younger Broderick for the cases, but many problems cast a dark shadow over the decision.
First, there are the family and personal ties. Not only is the contractor in question the mayor's son, Lanane and Evan Broderick also share office space. The latter's name is carved in big letters on the face of an office building off Eighth Street. Just below on the same facade is Lanane's name.
Then there's the younger Broderick's record of being in trouble with the law:
. In 2001, he was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery in Florida.
. In 2003, he was arrested in Delaware County on a drunken driving charge.
. In 2007, he was arrested in Pendleton on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge.
(However, in 2013, a Marion County Superior Court expunged and sealed Broderick's criminal records.)
In the first two cases, his father, who is a fellow lawyer, helped Evan Broderick get out of trouble. In the 2007 case, the elder Broderick was serving as Madison County prosecutor, and the case was turned over to a special prosecutor, who declined to press charges.
So, when Lanane decided to bring back Evan Broderick to work on behalf of the city, he was bringing back not only a man who had pleaded guilty to drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident in the fall, he was also bringing back a man who had been arrested at least three other times since 2001 on charges ranging from battery to public intoxication.
So ask yourself, if you were the mayor or the city attorney, would you want to continue this person's association with Anderson?
That's an easy one, right?
Not so much for the real mayor and the real city attorney, who've chosen family and professional ties over acting in the best interests of the city of Anderson..