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The (Munster) Times. November 22, 2017

Mayors were right to issue vetoes

Mayors in East Chicago and Portage have recently vetoed measures that included pay raises for City Council members.

In East Chicago, the council overrode the veto. In Portage, the veto was just completed Monday, but already the council is making noises about overriding the veto.

East Chicago

Mayor Anthony Copeland vetoed the civil city and sanitary district budgets approved by the City Council on Oct. 30.

Among the council’s actions was to add $27,000 for education and travel expenses for council members and to boost police and fire salaries by 2 percent.

Copeland said 3 percent raises for all city employees, including police and fire, were already included in the 2018 budget.

“We had a balanced budget, one that didn’t need to be interfered with,” Copeland said.

The council, which already is well compensated, overrode the mayor’s vetoes of the budgets.

Part of the problem here is that the council acted so late in the budget process that there now is a question of whether the city will need to revert to its 2017 budget and eat into its reserves.

That’s sloppy work by the council, regardless whether you think well-paid councilmen deserve another $3,000 per year for travel and training.


Mayor James Snyder vetoed an ordinance Monday that would have given City Council members an additional $5,000 per year for taking on duties formerly performed by the Utility Services Board.

Snyder, who is under federal indictment on public corruption charges, made the right call in vetoing the ordinance.

When the council members dismissed the independent board and took on that role themselves, they promised not to give themselves a pay raise for doing so.

Now their justification for padding their paychecks is that they’ve got more work to do. They also say the new ordinance nullifies the previous one, so that promise to not give themselves raises is no longer valid.

We don’t see it that way. As Yukon poet Robert Service said, a promise made is a debt unpaid. The council must honor its initial commitment to the taxpayers not to raise its salaries.

The specifics of the two situations differ, but the principle is the same. The council members shouldn’t have attempted to give themselves pay raises in either situation.

We side with the mayors on these vetoes.


Evansville Courier and Press. November 20, 2017

Opposition to AT&T deal smacks of politics

As a general rule, Republicans and Democrats see antitrust matters differently. Republicans tend to favor a light touch on mergers and acquisitions, while Democrats are more likely to step in if they see a threat to competition.

This was vividly illustrated in 2001, when the incoming Bush administration brought a quick end to the landmark case against Microsoft filed by the Clinton administration.

Why, then, is the Trump administration poised to take a hard line against AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner?

The legal grounds for a court challenge are weak, so the most plausible explanation is President Trump’s oft-stated grudge against CNN, which is part of Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting unit.

Ever since the Nixon administration secretly meddled in antitrust policy, both parties have tried to keep raw partisan politics out of it. Presidents appoint certain types of lawyers to head the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission antitrust units, then leave them alone to conduct independent reviews that follow the facts and the law.

At least that was the practice until Trump became president.

From a legal standpoint, the Justice Department challenge is puzzling. In fact, Trump’s top antitrust enforcer at Justice, Makan Delrahim, told an interviewer last year, before joining the administration, that he did not see any problem with the merger.

And why would he? “Vertical” mergers linking two adjacent industries raise far fewer red flags than “horizontal” mergers of competing companies in the same industry. AT&T, a telecommunications company, and Time Warner, a content provider, have virtually no competing business lines.

Now, however, Delrahim has inexplicably reversed course, joining Trump, who has long vented against both CNN and this merger, and a small coalition of liberal consumer groups that oppose most high-profile corporate combinations.

According to published reports, Justice has told AT&T that the company would need to divest either DirecTV, or buy Time Warner minus Turner Broadcasting, to get the deal approved.

None of this makes any sense outside of political vendettas. Turner Broadcasting is fairly small potatoes in terms of market power. And barring a combination of DirecTV with a slew of television channels would fly in the face of precedent.

The Obama administration, which earned a reputation for relatively tough antitrust enforcement, allowed a similar merger of media and content when it signed off on Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal.

If the AT&T-Time Warner case goes to court, the administration is highly likely to lose, but not before wasting a lot of taxpayer and shareholder money on legal fees in the process.


The Bloomington Herald Times. November 24, 2017

Look, listen for red kettles

We also hope shoppers on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season will look and listen for the distinctive red Salvation Army kettles and accompanying bells being jingled by the mostly volunteer bell ringers.

The money dropped into those kettles (they’ll take checks, too) helps provide people with necessities of life such as food, shelter and warmth. Your donation may help provide support for those who are elderly or veterans in need. It could be used to provide relief for people touched by a natural disaster.

And relevant to this time of year, your donation could make a difference between whether a child has anything for Christmas or nothing at all.

Just as we encourage community members to spend money at local businesses, we suggest leaving something extra to drop in the kettle.


The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. November 25, 2017

‘Acting in love to nurture consensus’

If actions speak louder than words, the message from one group of pro-life supporters isn’t worth acknowledging.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma called out followers of Hoosiers for Life in remarks he made during Tuesday’s Organization Day. Some of the group’s supporters, claiming he had killed legislation not yet filed, posted angry comments on a memorial website for Bosma’s mother, who died early this month. The comments referred to the Indianapolis Republican, a pro-life champion, as “a liar” and “a pathetic excuse for a Christian.”

“Some of you, here in the building, encourage incivility, you encourage misrepresentation, you participate in the vilification of others, you are insensitive to those who are hurting and those who are misunderstood, and I would only encourage you to stop,” Bosma said Tuesday.

Auburn Republican Ben Smaltz, who leads the House’s Public Policy Committee, was a target of protesters from a group called Intercessors for Life earlier this year. They picketed outside his home and attempted to picket outside the church he attends. Hoosiers for Life had encouraged its members to email or phone Smaltz after he declined to have his committee take up an abortion bill.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Indiana Right to Life distanced itself from another group – Texas-based Operation Save America – after its supporters picketed outside a home once owned by a Planned Parenthood official.

“Indiana Right to Life focuses its efforts on legal, peaceful and compassionate actions to extend help to pregnant women and to protect the unborn from abortion,” according to its statement. “You will not find IRTL protesting outside of people’s private residences. Indiana Right to Life believes that acting in love is the more appropriate way to nurture cultural consensus that all human life is valuable.”