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 Letters Published in October 3, 2007 Issue



 Oct. 3, 2007 – Letter submitted by State Senator Beverly Gard, R-Distict 28, Greenfield

Much has been written about Indiana's property tax crisis. The system now is unacceptable and must be changed. I am committed to working for fair, substantial and permanent property tax relief.

To date, you have not heard me advocating for a specific approach. There are two commissions working very hard to get all of the data and information necessary for legislators to make educated decisions on all feasible options. It is still too soon to jump in and support a single approach until all of the homework has been done. We cannot adopt a plan without considering all options. We also cannot afford unintended consequences as a result of the approach we take.

The plan that was discussed on Monday, September 17, at Bundy Auditorium is worthy of discussion but is not the only worthy option. I am quite familiar with the plan and, like others, have concerns and questions about how it might work or not work for local government and taxpayers.

I did not attend the September 17 meeting, because I had a long-standing family commitment for that week. As soon as we have recommendations and findings from the Property Tax Commission, I will look forward to discussing options and getting feedback from constituents. Rep. Tom Saunders and I will notify The Banner of public meetings that we schedule.



 Oct. 3, 2007 – Letter submitted by Jill Null, Knightstown

Now that the Charles A. Beard community has settled into a comfortable routine of homework and football, it is time to reflect on the past, consider the future, and enjoy a laugh at ourselves. The McGuire regime has fallen, and nothing has been broken that cannot be mended. The good doctor's "good run" featured inexplicable decisions, resignations, terminations, disappearing e-mails, lawsuits, a Jefferson Muzzle Award, and the joyful sounds of singing silenced. We can hardly blame the poor man for riding off into the sunset, borne away on the wings of love. While it has become conveniently fashionable to fault school superintendents for everything from Iraq to global warming, these individuals merely embody the will of their school board. I also recall that, not long ago, this McGuire fellow rode into town in a blaze of glory, trumpeting good ideas, good intentions and good will toward men. Where did we go wrong? Just about everywhere, as the saga of the school improvement team will show.

In an earnest attempt to apply democratic principles, Dr. McGuire invited community leaders, interested professionals, and concerned parents to join CAB staff on a mission to "make our good schools great." The first meeting was well-attended, and we were assured that, with minimal time and effort, even country bumpkins such as ourselves could be transformed into sophisticated experts on educational improvement. We would then advise the school board on matters of grave importance. I was ecstatic. A few choice words of advice for the school board had been hovering on the tip of my tongue for months. I left the administration center weighed down with required reading and extra-credit material, proud to serve my community by reforming its educational system.

Prior to our next session, a series of unfortunate events befell CAB. At the precise moment when a pubic relations blitz was most needed, the iron curtain of nondisclosure thundered down. At the precise moment when the school improvement team was most needed, it went AWOL. The superintendent sadly surveyed the ragged remnants of his prized recruits, a skeleton crew of stalwart CAB employees and two disaffected moms. He promptly instructed us to chuck it and go home. Certain that our resolve was being put to the test, we remained glued to our chairs and timidly tried to discuss our homework. School improvement had initially appeared to be a simple process of stomping out critical thinking, artistic endeavor, and flip-flop footwear, but the fun went out of it when we were forbidden to mention any school-related matters that might be in need of, well, gee, for lack of a better word, "improvement."

At the first rumblings of insurrection, the superintendent closed the meeting by dropping his bomb: The school improvement cycle could take 10 years. Ten years? The remains of our team were primarily card-carrying members of the AARP, who, in our senility, assumed that we'd signed on for a brief tour of duty which would culminate in a shock and awe campaign. There was nothing to do but soldier on.

We marched off to our third battle with trepidation. The news out of CAB was grim. The more the nondisclosers nondisclosed, the more The Banner, like God, saw everything. The administration appeared to be in full retreat, but our resurgent leader greeted us merrily. His jovial demeanor gave rise to the rumor that a dirty trick was in store, so we should have been on guard when members of the school board trooped in. Still, for one shining moment, it appeared that, thanks to our many keen insights, we had been allowed to dispense with the impending nine years and nine months of prerequisite study, and had been catapulted directly to our rightful position as expert advisors. It was not to be. Either a coup was in progress, or the school board had belatedly opted to embrace the doctrine of micromanagement and would henceforth advise themselves, thank you very much. We were never provided with an explanation, other than a muttered "If this doesn't work either, we will just try something else"; i.e., cut and run.

Heeding the advice, I did not attend the final team meeting. It conflicted with church activities and I had righteously concluded that the cause of school improvement would better be furthered through prayer. And indeed, we have been blessed with a miraculous opportunity to begin anew. School improvement is challenging when resources are scarce, but common sense solutions to our problems can easily be obtained by strolling out of the halls of power and into the Corner Bakery. Then the work begins, for, as the school improvement team learned, all the good ideas in Henry County ain't worth a hill o' beans without sound project management, accountability, open lines of communication, and long term commitment.

Dr. McGuire correctly observed that school improvement cannot take root until a blight on our community is eradicated, but this can be accomplished in 10 seconds, not 10 years. President Bush has described our blight as "the soft bigotry of low expectations." So blighters and bigots beware: Your tenure has expired. Much is expected.



 Oct. 3, 2007 – Letter submitted by Nancy Watts Bland, Casper, Wyoming

Republican Senator John Barrasso(WY) has been criticized for voting against the current State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Critics claim that as an MD, he more than others should know how much this is needed.

Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich also voted against the most current version of this bill.

Does this mean both political parties are getting together. NO!

Dennis Kucinich voted for the original House-passed version of the SCHIP reauthorization bill in which qualifying children,including LEGAL immigrants, are covered. The current version denies legal immigrant children coverage. This is why Kucinich voted against it and he has explained this on his website, further proving his commitment to equal treatment under the law. As the only presidential candidate to vote against the war in Iraq, Dennis K. has continuously warned against many encroachments of our civil liberties by the Bush Administration.

Since the media no longer covers all candidates equally or correctly in either party and both parties are waffling, where does that leave voters, our constitution and future generations?

It appears some politicians from both parties, the media and religious fanatics are just playing football with the truth. Yet our personal season of freedom is year after year, and We the People are responsible for how it progresses or regresses. Personal choices and taking action are more important than ever before. Just confront and question every candidate at all levels and VOTE.



 Oct. 3, 2007 – Letter submitted by Richard R. Sitler, Knightstown

In reading the front-page story "Citizens Assail CAB Public Speaking Rule" in the September 26 issue of The Banner, I was flabbergasted by the response of CAB Board President Mike Fruth to citizen complaints about the board's policy on public comments at their meetings. Basically, he is telling us that "all of the other kids are doing it" when he listed other school systems with "similar policies." Such reasoning does not legitimate the policy in question. You certainly would not allow students to use "everyone else is doing it" to excuse unacceptable behavior. What kind of example is our school board setting for the students?

Fruth and the school board need to take more time putting in place policies that actually benefit the students instead of making policies that stifle the public and taxpayers ability to voice their opinions. If Fruth and the school board are concerned about how many people are wanting to speak out and what they are saying, maybe the school administration needs to take a long hard look at the job they are doing.

There is a reason for the dissent, and Fruth and the others need to remember that they serve the people. If you want less public comments at meetings, then do a better job running the school system. I also want to remind Mike Fruth and other community leaders that we are still living in a democracy and have a constitution that guarantees the right to public debate and dissent at all levels.

I want to give credit to those who do speak out and hold our elected officials accountable, especially Jamie Maxwell and Bob Myers. Both are lifelong residents of Knightstown and they set a good example for everyone else in being actively involved in the community. Bob Myers is highly respected in Knightstown and has school administration experience. I think that Fruth and the rest of the school administration would be wise to listen to him.



 Oct. 3, 2007 - Letter submitted by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Ken Burns, director and producer of The War

It should come as no surprise that thousands of Indiana men and women have answered their nation's call and are today serving as members of the active military, the Reserves and the National Guard. In fact, they follow a tradition of service established during the Civil War, when three out of four eligible Hoosier men served in the military. Generations of Americans have sacrificed bravely throughout our history, and it is vital that we recall and appreciate their deeds.

Over the past five years, Hoosiers have generously participated in the Veterans History Project to ensure that the stories of Indiana veterans are preserved as part of the permanent collection at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Due in large part to Senator Lugar and his Indiana Veterans History Project team, including AARP Indiana, many high schools, universities, boy scouts and girl scouts, nearly 7,500 stories have been collected to date. In fact, these Hoosier submissions account for the largest donation to the Veterans History Project.

Nationally, the Veterans History Project has become an impressive collection of oral histories from World War II through Korea, Vietnam and now the conflict in Iraq. Volunteers have collected 50,000 unique experiences, preserving the personal recollections of U.S. veterans, as well as home-front civilians who worked in support of our troops, to honor their service and share their stories with current and future generations. Already a significant number of these stories are available online for all Americans to easily access.

This fall, a seven-part documentary airing on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will showcase the evocative power of such oral histories. The War, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, will describe the sacrifices made in four small towns across America during World War II. From the victory gardens grown in each backyard, to the soldiers, sailors and Marines fighting in Europe and the South Pacific, we will see the tragedy and triumph of the war through first-hand accounts of the men and women involved. This film is as much about storytelling and sharing unique experiences as it is about World War II, and as such we hope that it touches on the universal human experience of patriotic sacrifice.

The War explores the human dimensions of one of the greatest conflicts in history - a global struggle that reached deep into America's heartland - and demonstrates that, in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. While the documentary follows the residents of Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and the small farming town of Luverne, Minnesota, those towns could easily be Indianapolis, Walkerton or Evansville.

The powerful stories gathered so far in Indiana, much like those in The War, are just a fraction of the heroic stories yet to be collected. We urge veterans of all ages and all eras to share their memories. Please tell your story and preserve the history that you experienced and allow your fellow Americans to become richer from your efforts.


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