Editorial Roundup:

 
 
Updated 2/4/2020 2:00 PM

The (Munster) Times. January 30, 2020

Lawmakers must bridge gap for Griffith secession

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The entire state has a vested interest in Griffith's successful exit from the waste and corruption of Calumet Township government.

Now the Legislature should act to install the final length of bridge Griffith needs to find its way to another township or administer its own poor-relief services.

The Indiana Senate is expected to vote in February to give Griffith the option of joining Ross Township following a 2018 referendum in which Griffith voters overwhelmingly voted to exit Calumet Township.

And under the same bill, if Griffith and Ross Township can't come to an accord, Griffith would be allowed to administer its own township services.

It would appear that measure is a final crucial piece for the town to finally break free from Calumet, which has been plagued by wasteful spending, criminally convicted past trustees and other scandals in recent decades.

The Senate should pass the bill without delay, and so should the Indiana House.

Griffith has been courting new township suitors since it voted to secede from Calumet Township in 2018.

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The referendum vote followed a law written and successfully pushed through the Legislature in 2012 by former Indiana House Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville.

That bill paved the way for the secession referendum.

But since the vote, Griffith has had a hard time landing in a new township.

As written, the secession law allows Griffith to join a township that is contiguous with its borders, leaving North Township and St. John Township as the only other alternatives to Calumet.

Those two townships and their leadership have thus far been shortsighted about the additional tax revenue and benefits Griffith would bring to their layers of government.

But nearby Ross Township showed early interest in Griffith joining its ranks, even if the law forbade it.

The pending bill, sponsored by Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, rightly would allow Griffith to join Ross Township if both sides can come to an agreement. And if no such agreement can be reached, Griffith would be allowed to break off on its own, free of any township.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some lawmakers want to stand in the way of this sensible solution.

State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, argues the departure of Griffith from Calumet Township would shift the property tax burden in such a way that Calumet Township would lose $727,000 in annual revenue.

But Calumet Township had a number of years to attempt to bring its spending and sky-high poor-relief tax rate in line with the rest of the state. By some estimates, the Calumet Township poor-relief tax rate has hovered some 30 times higher than the state average.

It couldn't do so, and the law opened a window for Griffith to depart.

Town voters have spoken, under the law, and have called for secession via referendum.

Now lawmakers must show they support citizens who clamor for more responsible government.

The upcoming votes in the Legislature continue the referendum on bad government. State lawmakers should ensure they're on the right side of history.

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South Bend Tribune. January 30, 2020

Decision to postpone new SB schools busing routes the right choice

What would have been another setback for South Bend schools busing was recently avoided when Superintendent Todd Cummings decided to postpone the new plan until the start of next school year.

It was the right decision by Cummings, but one that likely wouldn't have been made without push back from parents who saw the plan for what it was - a failure about to happen.

South Bend schools have been trying to fix its transportation system for years, but problems remain. Parents report that school buses still fail to pick up their children on time or at all, don't get them to school on time and haven't always dropped them off at the expected school bus stop after school.

'Busing is a complete disaster,' one parent wrote on Facebook. 'So much so I have given up on it with my child riding.'

The Tribune reported on the plan on Jan. 22 and Rene Sanchez, the district's chief operations officer and interim director of transportation, confirmed that drivers would be bidding on their routes one or two days later. They then would be performing dry runs on Saturday in preparation for starting the new routes on Jan. 27.

Does anyone expect that short turnaround would make for a smooth transition to a better busing plan?

In announcing his decision on social media and reiterating it at a later school board meeting, Cummings said: 'In my ongoing quest to improve the transportation problems that have plagued the corporation for years, and to save money for the district, the decision to change bus routes at this time of year was premature. Waiting until the start of the next school year makes the most sense for our students and families.'

There are currently 190 buses covering 881 routes weekly for the school district. The new plan reduces the number of buses to 168 that will be covering 736 routes.

Sanchez said the changes will cut mileage by the thousands, saving the district about $3,000 a month in gas.

We understand the need to save money, especially for a district that continues to struggle financially.

But the process was rushed and poorly thought out.

Parents were not given enough time to adjust and make the necessary changes in their schedules to accommodate new drop off and pick up locations. Making such significant changes in the middle of a school year when parents say they are still experiencing problems with busing makes no sense.

Cummings was right to change the plan's start date. But credit goes to the parents who spoke out, made their unhappiness known to the school administration and persuaded Cummings to alter his plan.

There are lessons to be learned here. The next time the school administration wants to make such sweeping changes there should be more planning beforehand, more advanced warning for those impacted by the changes and better communication among everyone involved.

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The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. January 28, 2020

Keep primaries in the hands of voters

It's a common lament among young Americans that their vote doesn't really matter.

If Indiana eliminates U.S. senatorial primaries, it will only bolster this claim.

State Sen. James Buck, R-Kokomo, presented his plan to the Senate Elections Committee recently, proposing that senatorial candidates be nominated by party conventions rather than by primary elections.

Buck defended this proposal by arguing that eliminating primary campaigns would make running for office less costly.

This process is not unheard of in Indiana, where Republican and Democratic nominees for state offices such as lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state are chosen by state conventions

Under Buck's plan, voters would still decide the senator in the November general election.

We agree with Republican state Sen. Erin Houchin of Salem, who told Buck that she would prefer leaving the Senate candidate decision to voters rather than a much smaller pool of party convention delegates.

Buck said a bloated federal bureaucracy grew from the movement toward voters - not state lawmakers - electing U.S. senators before adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913.

Bureaucratic or not, it is the proper role of government to work in the interest of the people.

Nearly 507,000 people voted in Indiana's 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary. That's a half million Hoosiers who deserve to have their voices heard.

While it may seem that too much money is spent on primary campaigns and elections, the process empowers the people in the democratic process of electing our leaders.

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