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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Van Wert native blames Ohio's government for losing Honda

Aaron Baker, writing at his weblog, laments that his hometown of Van Wert, Ohio, didn't get chosen by Honda for its new assembly plant.

Mr. Baker is a summer intern in the office of U.S. Representative Mike Pence of Indiana. He is also the incoming student body president of Indiana Wesleyan University of Marion (IN).

However, there is no mistaking that he remains a Buckeye - a Honda-driving Buckeye, no less.
Yesterday it was announced that Honda is coming to Indiana. Honda was considering Van Wert, my hometown, as a potential site. I believe my town did everything it could, at least after Honda started considering my town. But I don’t think it had much to do with location or city politics. Rather, I feel the decision was set in motion months before Honda even started looking.

So who do I blame? I blame my state legislature, my governor, and bad economic policies.

Where did Ohio go wrong and Indiana go right? Let’s start with tax increases. Ohio raised taxes and what kind of message does that send to executives? Ohio raised taxes to deal with a difficult period in the economy. Instead of lowering expenditures and taxes, allowing the market to recover naturally, Ohio showed no fiscal self-control and my town is heartbroken for it today.

I’m devastated that Van Wert didn’t win. It would have meant everything to a small town’s local economy. However, I’m happy for Mitch Daniels, it’s really his administration’s win.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Indiana Newspaper Mixes Up Identity of Car Crash Victim

The Bloomington Herald-Times reports on the pain caused by the newspaper's misidentification of a person killed in a motor vehicle accident in Lawrence County, Indiana. Yesterday, the newspaper identified the victim as Shirley Wright, a retired professor at the Indiana University Law School in Bloomington. Unfortunately, the Herald-Times did not have the right Shirley Wright.

Understandably, both families are upset. From the Herald-Times:

EDITOR’S NOTE: H-T police reporter James Boyd wrote Thursday’s story about a fatal accident Wednesday in Lawrence County. Today’s stories correct that account and explain how we got it wrong.

The voicemail messages on my work phone ranged from sadness to rage Thursday afternoon, and I deserved it all and everything in between.

The story details how the reporter did not follow proper standards and protocols which would have avoided the mix-up. The story's description of how the reporter's reliance on the mistaken beliefs of the living woman's former colleagues compounded the reporter's mistake was reminiscent of how beliefs of the friends and family members of the victims of the Taylor University tragedy contributed to the misidentification by the coroner and hospitals of two Taylor students.

Fortunately, such instances of reporters causing heartache are rare. Even so, perhaps there might be some who would call for higher standards to be imposed on editors and publishers to avoid such errors in the future.

After all, one can become an editor or reporter without any particular training. There is no test before one becomes a reporter.

Hat tip: INGroup and Indiana Legislative Insight

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Schurz officials visit Aberdeen, South Dakota

Officials from South Bend based Schurz Communications went to visit their acquisition in South Dakota Monday. Schurz bought the Knight Ridder owned Aberdeen News American from McClatchy Newspapers.

The report by Emily Arthur in the Aberdeen News American said that COO Scott Schurz and three other Schurz executives met with newspaper employees and toured the facility.
"We like to buy well-run companies in interesting communities," Schurz said. "If you look at our history, you'll see that we don't purchase a newspaper just to make a lot of changes. ...The large majority of decisions we believe should be made the community level."
More: Reporter Arthur and colleague Angela Mettler were featured in Fort Wayne Observed's original reporting on how the Aberdeen News American reporters reported on the sale of their own employer.

Headline of the Week

IP's Headline of the Week comes from WISH TV 8 in Indianapolis:

Of course, minorities are no more likely to drown from drowning than anyone else.

Every victim of drowning drowns.

Fortunately, WISH TV anchor Karen Hensel, formerly of WANE TV 15 in Fort Wayne, explained things a bit better in the introduction to the actual video report. Ms. Hensel said, "Minorities are at a higher risk of drowning than their Caucasian counterparts."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Supreme Court Appoints Full Time Circuit Judge Pro tem in Huntington County

The Huntington Herald-Press reports that the Indiana Supreme Court has appointed Huntington attorney Tom Hakes as Circuit Judge Pro tempore for the remainder of 2006.

Current Huntington Circuit Court Judge Mark McIntosh has been ill with pancreatitis since early March. Mr. Hakes is unopposed for election to a full term at the November election.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dead Boy Misidentified in Maryland, a State that has Medical Examiner System

Today's news brings word of another misidentification of a child killed in a car crash. This time it's in the state of Maryland. This time there's a medical examiner system.

Maryland has a full medical examiner system of appointed officials.

Indiana Parley can't wait to see what Tracy Warner and Leo Morris will have to write about this.

From the story:

A child who died in a car crash was misidentified as his younger brother, a mistake that his relatives discovered a week after the accident, state police said Monday.

Troopers confirmed that the boy who died in the May 29 crash was 7-year-old Christian Marshall and not his 4-year-old brother, Justin.

Justin, his other sibling, McKenna, 2, and his parents, Sheyna Marshall, 29, and James Marshall, 28, all of Washington, D.C., were seriously injured in the crash. One of the Marshall children was pronounced dead at the scene.

The misidentification occurred, police said, when James Marshall, the only parent able to talk with authorities after the crash, was told that the child killed in the crash had been sitting in the right rear of the car. Marshall said he was certain Justin had been sitting behind him.

British Operator of the Indy Airport Bought by Spanish Toll Road Lessee

It has just been announced that Spain's Ferrovial Group has purchased a controlling interest in BAA, the British firm that operates many airports around the world, including Indianapolis International.

Ferrovial is a partner of Australia's Macquarie Bank in the lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Australians are Feeling a Little American Xenophobia

An Australian newspaper calls attention to what it describes as a rising level of American concern over foreign investment. It says Australian interests such as Macquarie Bank were slow to recognize the phenomenon.

The story cites Macquarie's role in the lease of the Indiana Toll Road and goes on to quote Governor Daniels, State Representative Jeff Espich, and U.S. Representative Mark Souder.

According to a congressional source observing the legislative process and intimate with intense business lobbying to try to tone down the legislation - in which Australian representation has been mostly absent - Macquarie has been playing "catch-up" on the issue.

"The issue of 'critical infrastructure' could still be a problem for them," the source said.

In a hearing on Homeland Security on May 24, Indiana Republican congressman Mark Souder asked specifically if lease deals such as Macquarie's would be subject to foreign investment review under the present legislation governing CFIUS - the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the equivalent to Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

He was told by witness Clay Lowery, assistant secretary for international affairs at the US Treasury, that the legislation only related to acquisitions.

While Mr Souder said he welcomed foreign investment, his line of questioning - which included queries on the leasing of Indianapolis's airport - indicated that perhaps leasing deals needed to be included in new legislation too.

"I'm thrilled to bring in the investment to Indiana," Mr Souder said. "I'm just wondering what kind of process goes through lease management, because these are - particularly an airport - a major airport would be a critical infrastructure."

220 Year Old Afternoon Paper Moves to Morning

As those in Fort Wayne are painfully aware, afternoon daily newspapers are becoming an endangered species. No afternoon daily - no matter how long its heritage - seems immune.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, New Hampshire, has been an afternoon newspaper for 220 years. However, the managing editor announced this week that the 220 year streak is coming to end; the Daily Gazette is going to mornings.

The change reflects a trend among newspapers over several decades, according to data from the Newspaper Association of America.

In the early 1980s, 75 percent of America's daily newspapers were published in the afternoon. Conversion of papers from afternoon to morning publication escalated in the 1990s, and by 2000 the number published in the morning dominated. The shift from afternoon to morning publication schedules has continued since then.

The Gazette will continue to have complete coverage of local news, sports and business. Whether it's the results of local college or high school sporting events, a decision by a city council or school committee, or overnight breaking news, we'll be delivering the same stories we do now, just a lot earlier in the day.

The newspaper allows its readers to comment directly online for each story. Some folks didn't like the decision. Reader Susan Mew wrote:
Kind of sad that the Gazette needs to follow the pattern set by every other newspaper and lose one of its "hometown" characteristics. I've been seeing the Gazette delivered in the afternoon for over 50 years, so of course, it will be a big change. If that's what needs to be, all will need to adjust. I for one certainly have more time to read and relax in the evening
The last two comments posted had a different angle on the change. Nick wrote:
"Yeah, what took so long??? Hey earth to Gazette readers...The whole world went to AM about 10 years ago!!!"
Josh advised the editor:
You know this will drive people to use the online version instead don't you? Print is dead and this is just another attempt to put up a speed bump to slow down the natural move to online.

Praise for Tracy Warner

Journal-Gazette editorial writer Tracy Warner gave a calming perspective on Monday night's Indiana NewsCenter 7 P.M. broadcast.

Linda Jackson led off the newscast with the story of Allen County Sheriff Jim Herman's appointment of Ken Fries as Chief Deputy of the department. Chief Fries is the Republican nominee for Sheriff of Allen County. He replaces the long-time Chief Deputy Bill Smallwood who is retiring from the Allen County Sheriff's department.

Ms. Jackson showed videotape of the appointment ceremony along with reaction from Ken Fries and his Democratic opponent in the fall election, Sergeant Tina Taviano.

Ms. Jackson then turned to Mr. Warner for his insight. It was a good thing she did for it was clear from the tone of her questions that she thought there some earth-shattering fallout to be had from the day's news of the appointment.

Mr. Warner explained that Mr. Smallwood's retirement was long-anticipated. He also said that there had been a long-held expectation that Sheriff Herman would name the winner of the Republican primary to serve as Chief Deputy and that the appointment was not unusual in historical terms, either.

Ms. Jackson then asked him whether there wouldn't be repercussions, friction and conflicts within the department since there were supporters of both candidates who had to work together until Election Day. Tracy Warner was at his best in explaining that the two candidates had worked together for a very long time and that both had been campaigning for over a year.

In other words, Tracy Warner explained that the Sheriff's race featured two professionals.

Senator Bayh on the Fence About Estate Tax Repeal

The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial today excoriates the Joint Committee on Taxation's (JCT) for its fiscal analysis of the death tax repeal bill up for a vote in the Senate this week.

The Wall Street Journal called the JCT's numbers "dubious" and "phony" and said the analysis is "clearly frightening some Senators." The WSJ continued:
Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana, for one, says he favors repeal in principle, but is nervous about potential revenue losses.

There's just one problem with the JCT's calculations: They aren't anywhere close to reality. And the JCT's own number prove it. Mr. Bayh and his Senate colleagues deserve to know this full story before they cast their votes.
The WSJ went to say that the JCT numbers might provide cover to what it termed "fence-sitting Democrats."

Blogger Baker Summarizes the First Week on Capitol Hill

Van Wert's Aaron Baker has a few observations following his first week serving as a summer intern on Capitol Hill for Indiana's U.S. Representative Mike Pence.
For those of you who question my survival skills: rest easy, I’ve completed my first week in D.C.


I spent a lot of the week getting used to the Capitol. The staff finally cut us loose, and we explored nooks and crannies available only to staffers. We poked our head into Pelosi’s office. Her not-so-sunny California boy cocked his peculiar head at us, past the stargazer lilies that too well matched his pink shirt. Democrats… But I definitely got to see lots of stuff typically off limits to visitors.
Mr. Baker is a student at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tracy Warner - Writing in the Shallow End

I had started to write a post this morning that it wouldn't be long before some Indiana editorial writer would use the tragic occurence regarding Taylor University to write an editorial calling attention to Indiana's elected coroner system.

It is an easy target for an editorial writer. Dust off a few shibboleths; don't do much historical research, and away one can go in high dudgeon and righteous indignation.

I saved my intial post as a draft because I am trying to wean myself away from blogging this week while Nathan Gotsch has taken over the duties at Fort Wayne Observed. I should have gone ahead and posted it because it didn't take Tracy Warner of the Journal-Gazette very long to fulfill my prophecy.

Mr. Warner is at his most self-righteous in calling for a medical examiner system in Indiana.

First off, the story about the Grant County Coroner mistake is about the identification duty of the coroner's office. WTHR-TV of Indianapolis had a very good story about the duties of the Indiana's coroner system this morning in an interview with Dr. John McGoff, the former coroner of Marion County.

As Dr. McGoff explained, the three main functions of the coroner are 1). identification; 2.) determining the cause of death: and, 3). determining the manner of death. This is also covered at the Indiana State Coroners Training Board site.

The first function is not necessarily a medical function. There are good, standard procedures taught by the Training Board. A coroner may require a call on medical expertise in carrying out that task but he or she may also call on other identification professionals in carrying out that duty.

The second and third functions of determining the cause and manner of death is a legal determination informed by proper medical and scientific expertise. Even a coroner who is a medical doctor is not going to be performing autopsies unless that coroner is also a forensic pathologist. Of all the medical doctors serving as coroners in Indiana only one is also a forensic pathologist. That is not unusual, however; trained and experienced forensic pathologists are few and far between. There are only 20 in the whole state.

Dr. Jon Brandenberger is a great coroner for Allen County. In interest of full disclosure I should point out that I serve with Dr. Brandenberger as an officer of a foundation and that I am part of the steering committee of Drive Alive, the program intiated by Dr. Brandenberger to prevent teen driving deaths.

That being said, most of the deaths referred to the coroner's office in Allen County are routinely handled by Coroner office personnel such as Richard Alfeld and Patt Kite who have many years of police investigative experience. And Dr. Brandenberger does not perform autopsies.

Mr. Warner writes that Grant County Coroner Mowery was a career politician - having served as Mayor, Grant County Sheriff and Marion Police Chief. Contrary to Mr. Warner's assertions, serving as Sheriff and as a Police Chief would be seen as a pretty good qualifications.

Mr. Warner goes on in his blog post to say that Indiana ought to have a medical examiner system. Well, Mr. Warner, Indiana already has provisions for a Medical Examiner system in the Indiana Code.

How do I know? Because I drafted the legislation, introduced as a bill in the Indiana House of Representatives and got it passed in 1981. I did so in conjunction with Dr. John Pless, the longtime forensic pathologist at I.U. Medical Center and with the support of then Allen County Coroner Bud Ahlbrand, M.D. and a large number of rural county coroners. That legislation led to a very robust debate which resulted in today's Indiana Coroner's Training Board and the current situation where all coroner's autopsies in Indiana ARE conducted by forensic pathologists.

The original Medical Examiner legislation (which is still in the Code) created five medical examiner districts in Indiana. Why five? Because that was the total number of forensic pathologists in the state at the time. The numbers of forensic pathologists has not particularly exploded in Indiana since then.

The Medical Examiner legislation was designed to be an "overlay" system that wouldn't supplant county coroners but would provide the availability of additional expertise

Unfortunately, it was never fully implemented due to local wrangling in Marion County over the construction of a county-owned autopsy site, among other issues. However, the purpose has been achieved along with provisions that no one can serve as a deputy coroner without passing the rigorous training program of the State Coroner's Training Board. The training is not charged back to the counties; the Training Board takes on that expense.

The elected coroner is a state constitutional office. (Indiana Constitution Article 6, Section 2). It can not be easily changed. Many witht experience in the area of law enforcement would agree it should stay that way. Just a few weeks ago, I participated in a discussion where a deputy prosecutor was adamantly defending the idea of an elected coroner with another local elected official who had no law enforcement experience.

Mr. Warner is guilty of other sins in his post including a lack of knowledge about the history of ambulance service and a gratuitous slur of funeral directors.

The times they keep a-changing but Mr. Warner seems all too often to write as if he has failed to keep pace with change in the last 25 years.

Tracy, open a book or make a telephone call. We'll all be the better for it.

MORE: Andrew Kaduk at Just 4 the Record writes in a post that the Journal-Gazette's reporting seems "mean-spirited" in its coverage of Grant County Coroner Mowery.

Canadian Blogger Trashes Janette Luu's New Show in Toronto

Janette Luu, the veteran WISE-TV reporter, left Fort Wayne for a move to a much bigger television market in Toronto. She was an exceptionally well-liked reporter during her time in Fort Wayne.

Well, one review is in about her new show "Canoe Live" in Toronto and it's not kind.

Here's just a small excerpt of what the blogger termed a "craptacular":

Why in the name of everything that's holy would a Toronto station that wants to connect with Toronto viewers, hire a host from Fort Wayne, IN who's never lived in Canada before, let alone Toronto? I'm sure Janette Luu is a lovely person and I have no doubt that her parents love her very much. I still have no idea, though, what the hell she's doing hosting a show mere weeks after a number of other very talented, very hard-working and very Canadian hosts got laid off in March.

Nicole Manske Update

Nicole Manske, the former News Channel 15 reporter in Fort Wayne, will soon be moving from her reporter's spot at WISH-TV in Indianapolis to go to Charlotte, N.C. for the Speed Channel's Speed News.

Joe O'Gara is a reporter for NUVO, a weekly Indianapolis newspaper. He spoke with Ms. Manske about her move in her latest edition. NUVO asked her about her introduction to auto racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2004. NUVO reported:

During her first month at the famed 2.5-mile oval, she discovered that she really enjoyed the sport of auto racing.

“For me, auto racing has an element the other sports don’t have: an adrenaline rush. I fell in love with everything about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the smells and the sounds, even when there’s no one else in the place.”