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Friday, February 23, 2018
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Friday, February 23, 2018 12:58 PM

NASHVILLE, Ind. - After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans, the United States responded with an array of security upgrades that we all endure today. We walk through metal detectors at airports and government buildings, have our bags (and even shoes) scanned before flights. There are stanchion barriers at gates to stop car bombers.

In 2011, the National Priorities Project estimated the costs of these security upgrades for defense and homeland security at $7.6 trillion. The homeland security cost an estimated $636 billion, footed, of course, by U.S. taxpayers.

As I wrote last week, in 2018 we are enduring a spate of school atrocities. I cited a figure of 18 incidents from the Everytown organization, that included any gun incident on or adjacent to a school campus. Out of that number we’ve had five resulting in injury or death. In the wake of the Douglas High School massacre in which 14 students and three teachers were murdered, we are witnessing an array of responses.

In Indiana, we’ve watched 20 students arrested in Griffith, Rushville, Kokomo, Columbus, Loogootee, Evansville, Bloomington, Muncie and Carmel for making violent threats aimed a school, mostly through social media portals such as Facebook and Snapchat. The Indiana General Assembly is advancing bills on background check requirements, waiving lifetime handgun permit carry fees, and loosening restrictions for carrying guns into schools attached to churches. We’ve watched a number of our churches conduct drills to confront shooters.

At the White House on Wednesday, President Trump and Vice President Pence listened to victims and parents from Columbine and Douglas high schools, and Sandy Hook Elementary School as a jittery nation watched on live cable. Andrew Pollack’s 18-year-old daughter Meadow was murdered at Douglas. “We protect airports. We protect concerts, stadiums, embassies, the Department of Education that I walked in today that has a security guard in the elevator,” Pollack said. “How do you think that makes me feel? In the elevator, they got a security guard. 9/11 happened once, and they fixed everything. How many schools, how many children have to get shot?"

President Trump is now considering banning bump stocks (used to efficiently kill 58 in Las Vegas and wound more than 200), arming teachers, and bringing in armed military veterans into schools. "Certainly it's controversial, but we'll study that, along with many other ideas," Trump said. He’s also suggested investing in mental health screening and services with a price tag measured in the billions. And he wants to “harden” school security systems.
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    FORT WAYNE – The candidates for the hotly contested Indiana United States Senate seat were certified just hours after the budget passed Congress and was signed into law by the president. The vote clearly outlined the battle lines which had already been drawn. It is increasingly difficult to see how the Republicans will maintain even their razor-thin margin of 51-49 in the Senate without recapturing the Indiana seat. This is astounding, and depressing, given that 25 senators who caucus as Democrats and only eight Republicans are among the third of the Senate up for election in this cycle. This was the cycle to gain ground, because the next two will be playing defense. This is also the vice president’s home state and a state that went overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016. To outside observers, this ads to the perception that if the Republicans can’t win here, where are they safe? 
    INDIANAPOLIS – In the tragic wake of the 18th American school shooting so far in 2018, with five resulting in injury and death, at this writing my email inbox had yet to receive one of those trite “thoughts and prayers” press release from the Indiana congressional delegation and Vice President Mike Pence. Progress comes in baby steps.  President Trump did fall into briefly into this trap, tweeting, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” At least he got the second sentence right. But in nationally-televised remarks Thursday morning, Trump said, “Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you whatever you need." Trump later said he plans to work with state and local leaders to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” But he made no reference to guns. Remember John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”? In 21st Century America, an inert Congress unable to lift a finger in the wake of domestic terror campaign for fear of attracting National Rifle Association campaign opposition funding, this is an on-going profile in cowardice.

    SOUTH BEND – Money isn’t everything. But it sure is something. I have often cited that political truism in analyzing campaign finance reports. Keep it in mind as we look today at money raised, spent and still on hand as reported by candidates for Congress in Indiana’s 2nd District. Most impressive in year-end reports to the Federal Election Commission is the fundraising of Mel Hall, former chief executive officer of South Bend-based Press Ganey. Hall did better in fundraising by far than the other two main candidates for the Democratic nomination. He even raised more in fourth-quarter contributions than Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Republican incumbent seeking a fourth term. The nationally influential Cook Political Report noted Hall’s successful fundraising Thursday in moving the 2nd District from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican” in its evaluation. It upgraded Democratic chances also in other districts where a Democratic challenger outraised a Republican incumbent. The other two main candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination are Yatish Joshi, owner of GTA Containers in South Bend, and South Bend attorney Pat Hackett.
    MERRILLVILLE – I suspect you can say it could only happen in Lake County. And, yes, we are talking about a heated Democratic sheriff’s primary that just got hotter. At first glance, the biggest loser is Sheriff Oscar Martinez, who has been in office since winning a precinct caucus last fall. The biggest winner is former Schererville Police Chief David Dowling, who finished second in the precinct caucus. And, at the heart of all the action is Betty Dominguez, whose husband Roy Dominguez was sheriff from 2003 to 2010 and likely would be running again this year if the sheriff wasn’t Hispanic. Betty Dominguez, who is a retired Lake County Court probation officer, entered the sheriff’s race on Monday. Her candidacy stirs Lake County’s diverse ethnic pot. Martinez hoped to be the lone Hispanic in the race and corner that vote. That no longer would appear to be possible. Betty Dominguez, who is almost as recognizable as her husband, would be expected to pull a substantial vote.  The other Hispanic in the race is county police officer Maria (Rosa) Trajkovich.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Once again, with the stock market tumbling as Lego blocks struck by a playful toddler, the inexplicable is explained by experts who declare, “The fundamentals are sound.” We recall the anxiety of the Great Recession which was built on these the facts:  The number of private sector jobs in the United States fell by 11.6 million between June 2007 and January 2010, a decline of 9.9%. Indiana’s experience was a job loss of 316,000 from June 2007 to February 2010; down by 12.2%. These private sector job losses result from market conditions which require divine explanation. Government jobs rise and fall with the political thought waves of elected and appointed deep thinkers.
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  • Atomic! Trump listens; IN legislators loosen gun restrictions
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. President Trump listens to massacre victims: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence conducted an extraordinary “listening session” with victims and families of massacres at Douglas HS, Columbine HS and Sandy Hook ES at the White House Wednesday. It was televised for the world to see. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, 18, was killed last week, said, “We protect airports. We protect concerts, stadiums, embassies, the Department of Education that I walked in today that has a security guard in the elevator. How do you think that makes me feel? In the elevator, they got a security guard. 9/11 happened once, and they fixed everything. How many schools, how many children have to get shot?" On the same day, Douglas students marched on Tallahassee, vowing to defeat NRA favored legislators and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio seemed to shift positions during a restive CNN-televised town hall, saying he would reconsider restricting the size of magazines, adding it was time for “everyone to start rethinking their positions.” 

  • Atomic! Sunday beer bong; Hathaway to RNC; Trump gun moves
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. On the brink of Sunday sales: Here are your power cocktail hour talking points: Some Hoosiers have been waiting eight decades for this. With an 82-10 vote in House, complete with an expedited date of March 4, Hoosiers will be able to buy beer, wine and liquor everywhere from big box stores to the corner package store every day. This bill isn’t just on a fast track, it’s in a beer bongGov. Eric Holcomb  is expected to sign SB1. State Sen. Ron Alting, who sponsored the bill, said this morning, “Thanks to the hard work and leadership of the legislators in the Senate and House committees on Public Policy, this bill has moved through the General Assembly at record speed. Changing the effective date of this bill from July 1 to upon passage will provide Hoosiers with this convenience immediately. I look forward to concurring on this bill and sending it to the governor’s desk.”

  • Horse Race: Contrasts emerge in first GOP Senate debate

    INDIANAPOLIS - The three Republican U.S. Senate candidates departed from well worn scripts and engaged in real contrasts during their first debate of what will likely be a $100 million race by the time a nominee engages Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. The trio had spikes out with U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita taking aim at businessman Mike Braun, who he has called “tax hike Mike.” He chided U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for voting for a budget bill that will supercharge the federal budget deficit to an estimated $1.5 trillion. “It’s the choice our commander-in-chief gave us,” Messer said of President Trump. “He could be no clearer.” Then pivoted back to Rokita, who portrayed himself as the lone Trump supporter from the beginning of his campaign. “You can’t run around and say you support the president and then not support him,” Messer said. 
  • Atomic! Students flunk civics; gun reform; Potholopolis Council
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana’s students flunking civics: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Across the nation, we’ve watched students jump into the post-school atrocity fray. They have known an America where mass shootings at schools, shopping malls and at concerts have become the norm. Many have had enough. The Wall Street Journal  Reports: “A nationwide walkout by teachers and students is planned for March 14, marches for March 24, and a day of protests on April 20, the anniversary of the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. Smaller events are popping up as well. Students at Douglas High School plan to visit politicians in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, on Tuesday and Wednesday to urge them to tighten gun laws.” But not in Indiana. Hoosier students are making news from Evansville, to Muncie, to Bloomington, to Boonville, making alarming videos with ominous warnings  about shooting schools up.
  • Atomic! Florida students lash back; Hoosier panic; Trump tweets
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Terrorized students become activists: Here are your Monday morning talking points: We have become a jittery nation  with three of the worst massacres in U.S. history (Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland) occurring since October. There’s something different  about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS atrocity that claimed 14 young lives and three teachers: The students are entering the political debate, taunting adults and U.S. leaders  on why school massacres continue to happen. This did not happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook or even Virginia Tech. In those massacres, parents and gun reform activists took the lead. After Vegas, some country music stars like Roseanne Cash  began pushing back at the NRA, but not young folks.

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  • Pence warns CPAC of Democrat majorities
    “We don’t have to wonder what would happen if the party of Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer won the House and the Senate this November, do we? In the past few years, Democrats have only fallen further to the left.” - Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to CPAC on Thursday. He accused Democrats of running the U.S. into the ground.
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  • 'Pot Hole Joe's' Third World dilemma
    The good news for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is he won’t be up for reelection until November 2019. But he is facing political crises on two fronts: The record homicide rates over the past two years after running on a law-and-order platform in 2015, and the Third World conditions his city’s cratered streets have become. On Friday, Hogsett said he would seek $14 million in emergency funding to fix arterials such as North Ho Chi Minh Avenue (formerly known as Keystone) in mid-March. There will be a pot hole filling binge next week.

    In the back of his mind he must be channeling Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic, who seemed poised for reelection in 1979 until a blizzard shut down his city. His anemic response paved the way for Jane Byrne’s primary upset a couple months later. Hogsett faces this type of political crisis. "The damage to our roads this year is frustrating for residents and I share their frustration,” he said. Hogsett has about 18 months to figure it out short and long-term solutions before voters render a verdict. And I can attest, Indy voter/motorists are not happy.

    State Sen. Jim Merritt, who is the Marion County GOP chair and a potential challenger, said Friday, “The real crisis we are facing as a community is the lack of leadership in the mayor’s office. Every previous mayor in our city’s history has understood that their job is to pick up trash, shovel snow, fill potholes and keep us safe. Why has Joe Hogsett missed the memo on his core responsibilities? Additionally, his solution is to spend down the rainy day fund instead of using millions of dollars provided to him by the State? When is he going to stand up, anticipate problems and lead our city?” Good questions. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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