Government

EYE ON THE PIE: Home cooking not always good for usRestricted Content

June 9, 2008
Morton Marcus
The conversation between my neighbors, Paula and Paul Plain, interrupts the enjoyment I get from sitting on the deck in the dark of the night. They generally agree on whatever subject they discuss, but their voices nonetheless displace nature's quiet. Thus, I find myself an unwilling participant in their nocturnal conversations. Last week, they were discussing the idea that young adult Hoosiers should be encouraged to remain in Indiana. "I'm so glad," Paula crooned, "that 80 percent of central Indiana's...
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Officials turn up call for 2-year degrees: State putting emphasis on higher education optionsRestricted Content

June 9, 2008
Tracy Donhardt
State and local leaders are turning up the amp on the importance of higher education, but they're also trying to tune students into the message that being college-educated doesn't have to mean spending four years at a university. In recent weeks, both Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels have loudly proclaimed the state's need for more workers with twoyear degrees. While government officials have long said the state needs a more educated work force to attract business,...
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Local mental health centers caught in funding limbo: Federal effort to shift costs to states on hold, but not-for-profits' budgets for next year must be completed nowRestricted Content

June 9, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
At Indianapolis-based Adult and Child Mental Health Center Inc., Executive Director Bob Dunbar has developed a contingency plan as he works on the agency's $25 million budget for next year. He has two versions of a spending plan for the center, which provides mental health services for 4,200 children and adults a year. One includes moderate cuts tied to state funding changes, and the other deals with massive cuts pushed by the federal government. In the worst-case scenario, as much...
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INVESTING: Law of supply and demand wreaks havoc on oil pricesRestricted Content

June 2, 2008
Ken Skarbeck
One of the first things a student in Economics 101 learns is the fundamental concept of supply and demand. Who can forget those familiar graphs that show the two crossing curves and the critical point where they intersect-the price of the particular good. Next, we learned the effect of shifts in supply and demand, which lead to either an increase or decrease in price. Visually, those graphs allowed us to see how an increase in demand, without a commensurate increase...
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IRS requires not-for-profits to disclose more info: Organizations gearing up for new rules in 2009Restricted Content

June 2, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
For the first time in decades, the Internal Revenue Service is making a major revision to the way not-for-profits disclose information about their finances, governance and operations. Coming in the wake of scrutiny from federal lawmakers and regulators alike, the changes to IRS Form 990 that take effect next year require not-for-profit leaders to provide more information on executive compensation and potential conflicts of interest, for example. And for the first time ever, most organizations will be required to file...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Projects require much work before ground is ever brokenRestricted Content

May 26, 2008
Fred J.
Encouraging new development-residential and commercial-is such a high priority in many communities these days that one would think both the private and public sectors would rush to break ground before the impulse passes. But as ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso often responds each Saturday during the season to the observations of others, "Not so fast my friend." Before construction actually starts, all parties involved in a proposed project, if it is to be successful, must reach consensus on a...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Globalization in the fast-food businessRestricted Content

May 26, 2008
Morton Marcus
My buddy Andy hates his name. He suffers because his parents were excessively influenced by "Wheel of Fortune" and named him Andreas Fawlty Towers. After years of teasing, Andy now hates just about everything. For example, he and I were having lunch at the redesigned "Steak, Shake and Sushi" as he complained about the new menu. "Foreign foods," he said, groaning. "They take a perfectly fine menu of American classics and add something no one ought to eat. It's bad...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: One man's trash is a gold mine for privacy violationsRestricted Content

May 19, 2008
Joan Antokol
National pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens are not the only ones to experience "dumpster-diving" by investigative reporters. These drugstores were merely the first to be featured in media reports about customers' personal information being disposed of without being destroyed first, a violation of state and federal privacy laws. Diving in Local reporters have since rummaged through the trash of mortgage brokers, title insurance companies, fitness centers, banks, law firms, hospitals and government organizations. While searching through the trash,...
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Tax appeals to open flood of business: Lawyers, consultants getting readyRestricted Content

May 19, 2008
Scott Olson
Tax attorney Sandy Bickle looked forward this summer to taking her first two-week vacation since 1976. But the latest property reassessment and the tax bills to follow are expected to generate a slew of appeals, prompting Bickle to rethink her plans. "I'll probably take one, but it won't be two weeks," lamented Bickle, who serves in an of-counsel capacity at Ice Miller LLP. "I expect to be very busy." She's not alone. Tax lawyers, consultants and appraisers all likely will...
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Test run of commuter rail could be relatively cheapRestricted Content

May 19, 2008
Chris O'Malley
Planners and politicians spent the better part of a decade and untold millions of dollars studying a mass transit system between downtown and the suburbs. They have little to show for it except mounds of reports and an estimate of $690 million, but the boys in bib overalls at the Indiana Transportation Museum think they can get it done for much less.
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Student loan industry still in limbo, despite new law: Sallie Mae, others wait for details from governmentRestricted Content

May 12, 2008
Tracy Donhardt
A federal bill intended to bail out student loan lenders like Sallie Mae, one of central Indiana's top employers, has raced like a bullet through Congress-a remarkable feat for Washington lawmakers. But what the future holds for embattled student lenders remains murky. While the newly passed measure will increase liquidity by allowing the U.S. Department of Education to buy loans, it leaves responsibility for working out the details to bureaucrats. In effect, Congress said in the bill that the Department...
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Companies prepare for tougher breach law: Writer of security bill wanted more protectionsRestricted Content

May 12, 2008
Kristin Mcfarland
Imagine a busy local bank that signs several new accounts weekly. With each new customer, the bank receives that person's Social Security number, home and business addresses, and entire financial history. But what if a computer containing all that personal information-so useful for identity theft-is stolen from the building? Should the company notify its customers of the possible danger or hope the information itself is safe and keep quiet to avoid scandal? To answer those questions, the Indiana General Assembly...
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VIEWPOINT: Is Indiana prepared for recession?Restricted Content

May 5, 2008
Myron Kanning
Each day, the headlines are filled with r e c e s s i o n - r e l a t e d news. Some predict a pending recession, while others outline pre-emptive actions of the Federal Reserve, Congress and the president. During the 2000-2002 recession, Indiana did not perform well. Indiana lost more jobs than the national average, and its recovery lagged behind the nation's. In fact, Indiana's jobs still have not recovered to the pre-recession level. If...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Making green make sense in a competitive marketRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Robert Stefanski
Day after day, the news seems filled with stories of disruptive credit markets, an economy teetering on recession, and increasing energy costs. As business professionals grapple with such issues daily, why would commercial real estate professionals consider the time and effort to "go green"? Historically, green initiatives suffered in part from stereotypical "tree-hugger" false perceptions. Such perceptions may lead people to believe that green investments simply aren't worth it. The truth? The real focus has always been the efficient use...
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IU-Bloomington, IUPUI ditch private-sector lenders: Student loan turmoil spurs schools to tap federal fundsRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Tracy Donhardt
With turmoil in student lending markets escalating, some universities are making major changes to ensure students have access to loans for the upcoming academic year. The answer for the Bloomington campus of Indiana University and for IUPUI is to return to getting loans straight from the federal government under the Direct Loan Program. The change will go into effect at the start of the next academic year. The two universities here are following other schools across the country making the...
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Soaring cost of gas makes ethanol blend more competitiveRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Chris O'Malley
Prices of an alternative fuel that's had patriotic and environmental appeal--but not an economic one for motorists--have been flirting this month with gasoline on an energy-equivalent cost basis. The sudden but often fleeting price appeal of fuel "E85," a blend of ethanol with a dash of gasoline, is due largely to gas prices soaring to nearly $4 a gallon.
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Intermodal is key to Indiana's future crossroads identityRestricted Content

April 28, 2008
Brian Zurawski
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about rail's resurgence as a means for moving goods across the country. The story described the federal dollars being spent to fuel this railroad recovery, as well as the private sector investments being made and the economic benefits waiting for cities that get involved. The story included a map with thick, colored lines representing the key rail systems connecting the Midwest to the coasts. It took only a quick...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: As business property taxes rise, who really pays the bill?Restricted Content

April 28, 2008
Brian Mann
All Indiana counties revised property tax bills as a result of an outcry by thousands of homeowners who fought back when they saw their 2007 tax reassessments and bills. Assessors had to go back to work and try again. So, they did. The new bills are out, and while it may be good news for homeowners, you can bet commercial property owners aren't turning cartwheels in the parking lot. The average assessment for commercial properties (where you shop, work and...
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INVESTING: Complexity of investments is a big part of problemRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Ken Skarbeck
I recently visited the town of Concord, Mass., known not only as the site of the "shot heard 'round the world," but also as home to many influential authors during the 1800s. Just outside town is Thoreau's Walden Pond, and in Concord you can visit the homes of other writers of the era, including Emerson, Alcott and Hawthorne. If any of these literary transcendentalists were around today, it is doubtful they would care much, if anything, about the evolution of...
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VIEWPOINT: Lest we forget, 'solid and stable' is goodRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Tim Kern
"I moved to Indiana on purpose," I've been telling people since the move from Florida last August. The Indianapolis area attracted me and my business for a number of reasons-reasons which, I'm more convinced each day, Hoosiers take for granted. Someone might want to consider the good that's right in front of our collective noses: Unlike Florida, whence I emigrated, people here know who can get things done, where businesses are, and whose reputation is good. A state full of...
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Former ATA workers receiving free, fast help: Ivy Tech, WorkOne team up to help those displacedRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Tracy Donhardt
Less than a week after ATA Airlines Inc. filed for bankruptcy and shut down April 3, Barbara Greene, a 24-year employee, was feeling good about finding a new job. The 52-year-old former government affairs worker coordinated the issuance of permits planes needed for landing in or flying over other countries. Her years with the airline included work with international agencies and travel to foreign locales. She credits her positive outlook to the help she's receiving from a WorkOne training center...
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Making Hoosiers more educated is a tricky task ECONOMIC ANALYSIS:Restricted Content

April 21, 2008
Mike Hicks
One thing that virtually every bit of serious research on education has revealed is that parents play the biggest role in educational outcomes. My own work in this area found that more than 90 percent of the differences in regional educational attainment can be attributed solely to the educational history of parents. Families play a far bigger role in educational success than any differences that occur across schools. So, what then does this mean for public policy? In my last...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Weak dollar can actually help Hoosier manufacturersRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Christine H.
As the U.S. dollar continues to weaken against foreign currencies, it actually benefits many Indiana companies that are actively pursuing sales abroad. M a n u fa c t u r e r s should pursue crossborder sales and supply-chain relationships to capitalize on the improved price points resulting from the lower dollar. However, manufacturers should be aware of the reach of U.S. patent law, which U.S. courts are regularly extending to cover activities performed outside our borders. Capitalizing on...
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A life of hard work, from the farm to the House: Thompson, who has three business degrees, wants to give boost to economically disadvantaged countiesRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Peter Schnitzler
Nearly 30 years ago, former State Sen. Katie Wolf appeared at a "women in politics" conference in Gary. Afterward, Jill Long Thompson, then 25, marched up and asked for advice. Thompson had her sights set on joining the Valparaiso City Council. Wolf offered her phone number. She soon found Thompson waiting on her doorstep, bursting with questions about how a female Democrat should campaign in a conservative, rural area. "What struck me was her determination to win," Wolf remembered. "After...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: How kids do in high school matters to economyRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Mike Hicks
Far too often, our worry about the shortterm state of the economy prevents us from focusing on the long term. That's too bad because it is the long term, not the short run, that we have the most ability to influence. The most important issue looming for Indiana and the nation is education. Here is the fate of a representative group of 10 18-year-olds. Four years ago, our 10 Hoosier students entered high school. One could not read. As of...
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