Government

Mayor's Action Center might be privatized to cure chronic woesRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Peter Schnitzler

Maybe it's a stray dog rooting through your garbage. Perhaps someone has abandoned a car amid the potholes riddling your street. Either way, Indianapolis offers a one-stop shop for irate residents to complain. Just dial the Mayor's Action Center at 327-4MAC. Then get ready to wait. And wait. So long, in fact, that close to half of the MAC's callers hang up in frustration.


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INVESTING: Candid e-mails chip away at Wall Street's credibilityRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Ken Skarbeck
E-mail, today's ubiquitous form of communication, is proving to be the smoking gun in a number of recent financial fiascos. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently released a draft of its investigation into the behavior of bond-rating firms during the subprime-mortgage-securitization craze. The report highlighted e-mails expressing the sentiment of the authors during the period-a sentiment in conflict with the Wall Street sales pitch being used to sell these securities to investors. One e-mail a Standard & Poor's analyst sent...
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NOTIONS: Blessings and benefits of bestowing that first breakRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Bruce Hetrick
Dear Win: I'm writing to say thank you. I'm not sure I've ever adequately done that. I'm not sure I ever can. I'm also not sure I ever quite grasped the gamble you took on me when I was a not-even-graduated college senior 28 years ago-not until the resumes and referral requests started filling my inbox and the risks of hiring rookies sank in. But this isn't just between you and me. I hope this letter will prompt others to...
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Commentary: Energy woes need quick, lasting fixRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Mickey Maurer
Last month, the front page of The Wall Street Journal featured 25-yearold Saeed Khouri, who paid at auction the equivalent of $14 million of our increasingly worthless American dollars for a license plate bearing "1." His cousin, Talal Khouri, threw in $9 million in pocket change for tag "5" to tool around Abu Dhabi in his Rolls Royce. Get this, the Khouris declined to be interviewed because they didn't want to be the center of attention. I am not particularly...
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Budget cuts loom for arts, parks as mayor tries to lessen deficitRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Peter Schnitzler

After Mayor Greg Ballard's upset victory at the polls last November, local arts leaders were in a panic. They worried the no-nonsense former Marine would put public safety on a pedestal and slash Indianapolis' funding for cultural groups.

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Commentary: Please copy this columnRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Chris Katterjohn
(In deference to '60s radical Abbie Hoffman and his 1971 cult paperback "Steal This Book," I hereby relinquish our copyright to this column and give you permission to copy it. I'll tell you what to do with it later.) Silly me, I thought Mitch Daniels had really shaken things up and done a great job in his first four years as governor. To hear his Democratic opponents in the upcoming election tell it, you'd think he had provided uninspired leadership...
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Mortgage industry under more scrutiny: Tougher rules don't include yield-spread premiumsRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Scott Olson
A housing crunch resulting from a flood of foreclosures has cast the spotlight on the deceptive practices that cause borrowers-particularly those with weak credit-to unknowingly pay more than necessary for a mortgage. The Federal Reserve earlier this month unanimously approved new lending rules in an attempt to tighten standards and prevent another such crisis. The changes will apply to all mortgage lenders and take effect Oct. 1, 2009. In the subprime category, a lender will have to assess a borrower's...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: State's new mortgage law is regulation gone awryRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Mike Hicks
Indiana is known as a state possessed of thoughtful and minimalist regulatory constraint of business. That's why a littleknown law enacted in 2007, which further regulates mortgage brokers, should come as a shock to many Hoosiers. As of July 1, when the law became effective, roughly 600 Indiana mortgage brokers (perhaps 1/10th of 1 percent of all small businesses in the state) were out of compliance. When a one-month extension granted by Secretary of State Todd Rokita expires next month,...
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A&E: Booker blitzes downtown

July 28, 2008
Lou Harry
It is likely that "Chakaia Booker: Mass Transit," the 10-piece exhibition running through April 1, will invite a greater negative reaction than the two previous public art shows that dotted downtown. Unlike Tom Otterness-with his rounded smileys masking money-is-evil messages-and Julian Opie-many of whose "Signs" could have served as, well, signs-Booker creates work that is abstract, defiant and unpolished. The pieces-constructed from tires-aren't pretty, they aren't funny, they aren't slick and they don't seem aimed to please. As such, they...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Don't blame financial woes on othersRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Morton Marcus
A brief rain shower moves across the Front Range onto Colorado Springs. The clouds change their patterns rapidly above Pikes Peak and I sip my coffee at a Starbucks that is unlikely to close. Here, not far from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a brief drive from the U.S Olympic Training Center, the volume of cash passing hourly is heavy enough to ensure that the cappuccino soy latte and the mint mocha frappuccino will continue to be drawn for months,...
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NOTIONS: Bless the blogosphere, all praise social networkingRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Bruce Hetrick
A few months ago, after considerable cajoling, my friend Erik convinced me to join yet another online social network. This one's called Smaller Indiana. It bills itself as "making people and ideas findable." So now, in addition to being "LinkedIn" with a few hundred of my friends and colleagues past and present, and in addition to being what BusinessWeek calls a "fogey on Facebook," I'm also a Smoosier-the moniker for Smaller Indiana members. No sooner had I become a Smoosier...
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Government officials dangle incentives, attracting firms across county linesRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Peter Schnitzler

Marion County economic development officials are proud of their latest headquarters attraction. Bowen Engineering Corp. will inject 103 high-paying jobs into the Indianapolis economy immediately. And over time, the company expects to add another 138. Their average salaries will top $70,000. The deal didn't require Mayor Greg Ballard to travel to Japan, or even to another state. Bowen Engineering is moving all of 8.4 miles, from its former home in Fishers to the 8800 block of North Meridian Street.


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BEHIND THE NEWS: Former Carmel exec goes from fast lane to jail cellRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Greg Andrews
Just a few years ago, Carmel businessman Edward Okun was living the high life. By last year, his personal holdings had grown to include four mansions, a helicopter, three airplanes, 20 automobiles, and a 130-foot yacht. Today, Okun is in a Virginia jail, is represented by a public defender, and faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars. And, angry investors say, rightfully so. They charge-and government investigators agree-that Okun financed his lavish lifestyle by misappropriating...
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Bank-run scenes create concerns: IndyMac situation unlikely in Indiana, but customers should check out stability of their banks, experts warnRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Cory Schouten
It was a scary scene, reminiscent of the Great Depression: Customers lined up outside California's IndyMac Bank branches to withdraw deposits after a bank run led to the bank's failure. The images have driven some central Indiana customers-businesses and individuals-to take a more critical look at the strength of their banks and the safety of their deposits. Even as financial stocks rallied in mid-July, the risk remains for more bank failures. Dismal earnings reports and massive write-downs continued in recent...
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VIEWPOINT: Let's bring government into this centuryRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Ann Murtlow
In the early 1970s, employees at Xerox Corp. developed a breakthrough version of the desktop personal computer called the Xerox Alto. The innovation was quickly shelved by the company-everyone knew there was no market for a personal computer! It was later licensed to Steve Jobs along with a few other "orphan technologies" for $1 million in stock in his young company, Apple. The rest, as they say, is history. Xerox is still a solid company, valued at $17 billion. Of...
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Community tries to keep up with diverse patient base: Hospital's new system improves cultural understandingRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Katie Maurer
It takes years of research for an anthropologist to understand another culture, but doctors and nurses don't have that much time. With the growing diversity of people receiving health care in the United States, a patient's cultural background is often ignored or misunderstood by care givers. That can make for a less-than-positive hospital stay or doctor visit or, in rare cases, a catastrophic medical mistake. To avoid any such pitfalls, Community Health Network has implemented Culture Vision, an Internet-based program...
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VIEWPOINT: Indianapolis needs to talk trashRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Tom Henderson
Indiana has generous natural resources. I pumped some of those resources out of my sub-basement twice last month, and pulled some of its finer greenery from my roof and yard as well. The abundance is everywhere, from the farmlands and prairie in the north, to the farmlands, mines and even oilfields in the south. Drop a seed in most parts of Indiana and, if the neighborhood's not flooded out, that seed will grow nicely. Ask me about my tomatoes. Don't...
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New president shakes up nursing home group: Three quarters of staff leaves within months of arrivalRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
J.K. Wall
Steve Smith has shaken up the Indiana Health Care Association so much, the group representing Indiana's for-profit nursing homes is hardly recognizable to those who knew it before. And the way Smith tells it, he's just getting started.
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EYE ON THE PIE: Taking the con out of economicsRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Morton Marcus
A marketing professor at the Kelley School of Business used to proclaim he could teach all one needed to know about economics in a week. That was back in the days when faculty would spend a few minutes of the morning hours in the coffee room engaged in friendly banter as well as serious discussion. The coffee room and my friend are both gone, but to me, a teacher of economics, the insult remains. Imagine-denigrating my calling, my faith, with...
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BEHIND THE NEWS: Steely-nerved investor double dips on ITT stockRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Greg Andrews
Richard Blum is a former mountain climber who once led an Everest expedition. In his day job as a professional investor, he's almost as daring. Twice in the last four years, his San Francisco-based money-management firm, Blum Capital Partners, has bet big on locally based ITT Educational Services at times other investors were terrified of the stock. Blum, husband of Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, began scooping up shares in the for-profit education company in February 2004-one day after federal...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: No simple solutions for our property taxesRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Mike Hicks
There has been a common theme in many of the recent op-ed pieces in newspapers throughout the state: Our tax system is hard to understand and full of unnecessary complexities. I disagree, although there was a time when I also worried excessively about the intricacy of the tax system. But now that I am older, wiser and have come to understand that simple answers are usually helpful only for simple problems, my concern has abated. Here's why: The real angst...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: What we can learn from our kids' summer activitiesRestricted Content

July 14, 2008
Mike Hicks
Summer is at its midpoint, and with it comes the end of youth baseball, scout camp and a seemingly endless string of swim meets for the Hicks household. Like many of you out there, I welcome a few more quiet evenings at home. But during those long third-inning stretches and sleepless evenings in a tent, I spent some time calculating how much we value these youth sports and activities. You might be surprised what this math tells us about ourselves....
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Commentary: Two worlds, one languageRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
Chris Katterjohn
Do you speak Chinese? I don't, but I had a great conversation with two non-English-speaking Chinese artists and educators last week. I was moderating a roundtable discussion at the governor's residence for Joyce Sommers and the Indianapolis Arts Center. The roundtable kicked off a two-month summer exhibit at the center called "Two Worlds, One Language through Art." (You can read more about the exhibit on page 37.) It was my first time as a moderator in a situation requiring the...
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IU program aims to turn lab rats into leaders: Business training is tailor-made for scientistsRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
J.K. Wall
Andrea Walker is a chemist with management aspirations. But instead of signing up for a traditional MBA program, the team manager at Indianapolis-based AIT Laboratories will enroll this year in a slimmed-down business program that focuses on the life sciences. The program, called the Kelley Executive Certificate in the Business of Life Sciences, is a new creation of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The program will conduct most of its classes online over a one-year period. The courses will...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Social-responsibility movement has a dark sideRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
Mike Hicks
Identifying corporate villainy is a delightful pastime that virtually all of us have reveled in at some point or another. There are only two problems with this form of entertainment. A description of the first comes simply stated to us from the Gospel of John as "he who is without sin cast the first stone." The second problem is a general lack of intellectual rigor in the debate. The heavily funded attacks on corporate America come primarily from organizations with...
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