Editorial Roundup: Indiana

Indianapolis Business Journal. May 13, 2022.

Editorial: Kudos to two excellent leaders moving on to new adventures

Two great Indianapolis organizations announced this week they’re losing their longtime leaders—and both men are worth celebrating.

Ryan Vaughn is stepping down as president of the Indiana Sports Corp., the group that bids for and helps organize events like the NCAA Final Four, after eight years at the helm.

That news came the same day DePaul University in Chicago announced it was hiring away Robert Manuel, president of the University of Indianapolis, who has worked the past decade to grow the campus and better connect it to its south-side neighbors.

Vaughn is the latest in a long line of excellent Sports Corp. leaders who have established Indianapolis as one of the premier places to host an event.

During Vaughn’s tenure, the Sports Corp. has hosted or won bids to host an NBA All-Star Game, multiple Big Ten championships, the College Football Playoff National Championship that took place in January, and myriad NCAA tournaments.

None of those accomplishments are bigger than hosting the entire NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2021. The NCAA’s decision to hold the event in central Indiana was not just because Indianapolis is its hometown. Officials said the primary driver was confidence that the Sports Corp. and the city had the experience necessary to make the tournament a success.

Vaughn and his team won accolades for their work to quickly develop the plan to host the massive event and then to pull it off without a major hitch. IBJ named Vaughn one of its inaugural newsmakers of the year in 2021 for his work.

Vaughn is headed to the private sector—although we don’t yet know where—and we wish him the best. We urge the Indiana Sports Corp. board to be choosy as it considers Vaughn’s replacement. He or she will have big shoes to fill.

So, too, will the person who replaces Manuel at the University of Indianapolis.

The school of 5,600 students is not one of the state’s flashiest, but it is one of the 10 largest by enrollment, with specialties in health care fields. In fact, UIndy produces more physical therapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists than any other university in the state and offers Indiana’s only neonatal nurse practitioner program.

During his decade at UIndy, Manuel developed the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, which is now housed in a refurbished local industrial building on Shelby Street. In addition, the school built three new residence halls, developed the 150,000-square-foot University Health Pavilion and purchased several parcels around the campus with the goal of creating more amenities for students.

In DePaul’s announcement this week, its board chair, Gerald Beeson, lauded Manuel’s work at UIndy and said his “inspirational leadership combined with his dedication to academic values will solidify DePaul University’s future as a distinguished institution that offers a transformative education to a diverse group of students.”

That’s a loss for UIndy, but we’re confident it will seek a leader who can take the school into another successful decade.

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Anderson Herald Bulletin. May 14, 2022.

Editorial: Soaring prices further food insecurity, need for help

At the end of May, enhanced benefits allotted to qualifying Hoosiers through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will expire.

Those benefits, designed to ease the pain of the pandemic, had been available since March 2020 to households meeting income requirements.

While the good news is that the pandemic that led to that SNAP enhancement appears to be waning, the bad news is that the cost of living has skyrocketed over the past two years.

The cost of groceries, gasoline and about anything else you can imagine is higher now than it was in March 2020.

These rising prices affect each of us, but they exact the greatest toll on families struggling to get by, those qualifying for help under the federal assistance program.

We can argue about how we got here and what steps should be taken next, but that won’t immediately help families struggling to put food on the table.

We can blame elected officials and demand action, but legislation can take months to enact. It’s hard to even pinpoint what public officials can do to right the ship, at least in the near future.

All the while, people are going hungry. Families are struggling to get by, and lower income workers are seeing their paychecks quickly disappear.

In times like this, the giving nature of Hoosiers can help sustain those who need help the most. And the needs are plentiful.

According to Feeding America, over 60 million people visited a food bank in 2020. More than 38 million people, including 12 million children, are unsure where they might find their next meal. The struggle has been particularly great in communities of color, and the situation has gotten worse as a result of the pandemic, according to Feeding America.

Making matters worse is that many households struggling to put food on the table don’t qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs.

Those who don’t qualify for assistance shouldn’t be deterred from asking for help. First-time food bank users might feel it’s shameful, but feeding their families is more important.

There are 11 Feeding America-sponsored food banks in or immediately adjoining Indiana. The organization accepts financial donations and is in need of volunteers.

Many local churches also feed the hungry, and they are in need of donations. A quick internet search will find local organizations that provide people with food, clothing and housing assistance.

We might not be able to give much, but as a collective, our donations can make a tangible difference.

Predictions about the future of our economy are mixed, but it’s hard to find many who are overly optimistic, at least for the short-term.

Many of us did our part to fight COVID-19 by wearing masks, getting vaccinated and adjusting our normal routines to keep each other safe. We should keep that community spirit alive now by making donations and volunteering our time to help those in need.

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Terre Haute Tribune-Star. May 11, 2022.

Editorial: A cautionary tale for gun owners

The tense and chaotic episode that unfolded at a Terre Haute shopping center last month was ripe with lessons about what Indiana law permits — or prohibits — a person to do in defense of property.

Here’s how police investigators say the April 5 incident went down:

Two young men stole some items from a small store inside the enclosed Meadows Shopping Center. With plunder in tow, they fled through the main doors of the building and exited toward the main driveway and parking lot of the facility. They were followed outside by the store’s owner, who was none too happy with the thieves and their brazen criminal effort. What happened next stunned nearby onlookers, of which there were many at mid-afternoon around the busy commercial outlet.

The shop owner started firing a handgun at the thieves as they made their escape. Several shots rang out as the thieves fled around a corner of the building. No one was struck by the bullets, but they were fired in the direction of a busy parking lot and city street. People in the vicinity yelled for the man to stop shooting, which he did. A nearby middle school went into lockdown as students were about to be released for the day.

Fortunately, no one was injured, and police arrived quickly. The thieves got away, although they dropped some of their loot as they scrambled to dodge the gunfire aimed at them. They are yet to be identified and arrested.

The 72-year-old store owner, however, faces a felony charge of criminal recklessness based on allegations that he discharged his firearm in a reckless manner that endangered pedestrians and motorists.

It may seem surprising that the victim of a crime is now the one facing charges. But as the prevalence of guns in our society expands and people can carry deadly weapons with almost no restrictions, it’s crucial that people know what is and what is not appropriate use of firearm in cases such as the one the store owner encountered.

Legal experts explain that deadly force — including the use of a firearm — can be used only to defend against great bodily injury or potential loss of life, not simply to protect property.

A chief deputy prosecutor in Vigo County elaborated, saying use of deadly force to protect property, such as money or jewelry, can occur only if there is a reasonable belief that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent or immediate threat of serious bodily injury to oneself or another person, or to prevent the commission of a felony that involves the use or threat of force.

The wild-west mentality that guns can be used not just to defend yourself from bodily harm but also for defending property or merely intimidating someone with whom you’re having a disagreement is a threat to safe and peaceful living. What’s more, it’s illegal.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the Tstore owner who went too far in his pursuit of thieves. Regardless of the outcome, the case is a cautionary tale for gun owners who might be tempted to become gunslingers.

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