Government

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Why state's job growth is better than neighbors'Restricted Content

December 24, 2007
Mike Hicks
For the past week or so, I have been flooded by phone calls from colleagues in Illinois and Michigan, chortling over a new marketing campaign launched by Hoosiers. The privately financed billboards and radio spots ask businesses and residents whether they are tired of high taxes and unresponsive government. If so, they are invited to "Come on IN" to Indiana. It's high-order fun this holiday season. Indiana sits as a small island of growth in the Midwest, and it is...
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Ballard transition led by GOP insiders, business executives: 24 local leaders size up city for new mayorRestricted Content

December 24, 2007
Peter Schnitzler
With little encouragement and less financial support, mayor-elect Greg Ballard was forced to campaign as a longshot outsider. But his surprise election turned the tables. In the last six weeks, he's been embraced quickly by Marion County's Republican elite. And his transition team is stacked with insiders. To prepare an administration in less than two months, Ballard assembled a transition team of 24 local leaders, who then pulled in 150 volunteers to examine the current shape of city and county...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Fiscal bombs in Hoosier political watersRestricted Content

December 24, 2007
Morton Marcus
The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) issued a "Citizens' Guide to Property Taxes" on Nov. 20. That document contains the following paragraph: "What factors contribute to property tax increases? Local spending is the reason for property tax increases-or decreases-depending on local fiscal management. Other factors that contributed to increases during the 2006-2007 pay cycle include the elimination of the inventory tax and the onset of the annual adjustment process, also known as 'trending.'" Got that? Property taxes rise...
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RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY: The worst of this year's technology snafusRestricted Content

December 24, 2007
Tim Altom
Another year gone, and yet another Christmas gift for you. Every year, I collect examples of utterly horrendous technological snafus and write about them. No matter how awful your own meltdowns may have been, they can't have been as bad as these, so enter the new year with a light heart. The first example of disaster is fresh in the news still, at least in reports from the British Broadcasting Corp. The English government has lost disks with personal information...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Commission's reforms are just what Indiana needsRestricted Content

December 17, 2007
Mike Hicks
The recommendations of the Shepard-Kernan report are a tonic to anyone who cares about local government efficiency and improved local services. The commission r e c o m m e n d e d changes to the way Indiana's government provides local services. Our current system looks much like a pre-statehood government, where services are provided in a disconnected fashion with budgetary decisions answerable to state bureaucracies, not local voters. It is this organization of government that has caused much...
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NOTIONS: Read my lips: No taxes whatsoever. Nada. Zip.Restricted Content

December 10, 2007
Bruce Hetrick
I was driving through the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood when I spotted the sign. It was posted in the manicured front lawn of a brick bungalow on a wooded corner lot. It said: "Stop taxing our property." At other nice houses up and down the same tree-lined street, other signs dotted other manicured lawns. Many of them bore the same message: "For Sale By Owner." Below that, the signs cited the purported cause of the alleged listings: "excess taxation." I had the...
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Biz issues move to back seat: Property-tax reform leaves little time for other workRestricted Content

December 10, 2007
Scott Olson
Reforming the state's property tax system will consume so much of the legislative session that the Indiana General Assembly isn't expected to give much attention to other issues pertinent to the business community. Compounding matters is the fact that the session, which runs from mid-January to mid-March, is of the short variety, meaning legislators have less time to debate issues than they would during the long, odd-year meetings. "I think [property tax reform] is the most intense and voluminous issue...
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Kenley a go-to guy in taxing situations: Influential senator sees public service as his dutyRestricted Content

December 10, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
Take a look at some of the most complicated, heated and thankless Statehouse negotiations and chances are you'll find Republican Sen. Luke Kenley smack in the middle of the fray. While some Hoosiers are hard-pressed to attend a school board meeting or even try to understand their property-tax bills, the 62-year-old chairman of the Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee sits through hours of public hearings and even more hours of closed-door negotiations. This General Assembly promises to be one...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Are unions really that important?Restricted Content

December 10, 2007
Morton Marcus
Uncle Uriah Marcus visited us on Thanksgiving. It took over a week to recover. He blames "the @#%$# unions" for most of our state's woes. Uncle Uriah asserts "them big unions scares businesses away from Indiannie." A sample of his views: High property taxes: It's the teachers' union's fault because teachers keep pushing up their earnings and reducing their responsibility. Congestion in cities: Bus workers' unions keep fares too high for anyone to ride the bus. The battle between the...
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INVESTING: Investors shrugging off home-mortgage turmoilRestricted Content

December 3, 2007
Ken Skarbeck
Nov. 20 was one of the stranger days in the stock market that I have seen for some time. On the surface, it came and went like any other business day, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending up a decent 50 points. However, if you had told me the stock prices of both the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and the Federal National Mortgage Association would collapse 25 percent that day even as the Dow rose, I would have...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Why eliminating property taxes is a bad ideaRestricted Content

December 3, 2007
Mike Hicks
Judging from the many yard signs I've seen, a repeal of property taxes is a popular sentiment in the state. Too bad, because that would be an uncommon departure from Hoosier practicality and wisdom. Like most states, Indiana taxes income, consumption and wealth. We use these taxes to fund different levels of government. Critics of Indiana's property taxes are right to be flummoxed. I've even argued that many of the consequences of Indiana's property taxes are worse than most critics...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Privatization of lottery is a winning ticketRestricted Content

December 3, 2007
Morton Marcus
It happened on the day that does not exist. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is not a good news day. This year, we got an extra serving of admonitions about obesity from the Centers for Disease Control. Beyond that, we heard the usual stories of indignation and indigestion, miracle recoveries from swallowed wishbones, and promising/disappointing retail sales. Also on that day, Gov. Mitch Daniels deferred for another year his proposal to "privatize" the Hoosier Lottery. Last year, the state...
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PROFILE: Silverback Consulting Group: Consultant helps clients navigate tech jungle Silverback looks to diversify health care, bank businessRestricted Content

December 3, 2007
Ed Callahan
Silverback Consulting Group Consultant helps clients navigate tech jungle Silverback looks to diversify health care, bank business In the jungle that is today's business world, businesses can't survive without information systems. And if they need help finding their way through all the technological underbrush, a local consulting firm wants to be the 500-pound gorilla that clears a path for them. Silverback Consulting Group was founded in 1997 to help businesses upgrade their internal computer and phone systems. Its consultants plan...
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High-speed rail still on slow track in state: Economic study, innovative financing exploredRestricted Content

November 26, 2007
Chris O\'malley
The effort to put high-speed trains into service in Indiana and eight other Midwestern states sometimes seems as fanciful as the first manned flight to Mars. There have been years of talk and countless meetings. And it will be many more years before a vehicle is fueled-and-ready, if ever. In the 13 years since the Indiana High Speed Rail Association was formed in Highland, the closest thing to high-speed rail Hoosiers have seen is an occasional speedy European locomotive brought...
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Vets serve country, customers: Franchises offer breaks to would-be entrepreneurs leaving the militaryRestricted Content

November 26, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
On Veterans Day this year, retired U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Robert Flores didn't attend parades or reminisce with friends. Instead, he worked from open to close at his Little Caesars Pizza store at 11530 Westfield Blvd. "I've been here every day since we opened," Flores said, who debuted the Carmel shop Oct. 31 after receiving assistance from a Little Caesars program created to help veterans become franchise owners. As part of the program, Flores, 45, received a discount of...
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EYE ON THE PIE: An open letter to new mayorsRestricted Content

November 26, 2007
Morton Marcus
It's strange, but we don't know who will be the mayors of our Indiana cities for the next four years. Ah, yes, you and I read results in the newspapers and saw jubilant winners on TV congratulated by humbled losers. But how do we know for sure until the state tells us? I didn't find the latest results on the secretary of state's Web site. It does have the May 7 primary election results, which provide fascinating information for those...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Politicos set framework for debate over property taxesRestricted Content

November 26, 2007
Ed Feigenbaum
Lawmakers returned from their respective districts across the state for Organization Day activities Nov. 20, with many already weary of having their ears bent by constituents frustrated over property taxes. Instead of finding some respite in Indianapolis, they were greeted at the Statehouse by protests from both citizen activists and organized interest groups-such as the Indiana Farm Bureau-seeking substantive property tax reform and not simply another round of short-term property tax relief. The Libertarian Party of Indiana even bought Indianapolis...
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NOTIONS: Surefire CPR for the high cost of governmentRestricted Content

November 26, 2007
Bruce Hetrick
Last Saturday, my wife Cherí and awoke to a beautiful fall day. Having no o b l i g a t i o n s , w decided to take spontaneous trip to Orange County, to see the restored West Baden Springs Hotel Despite the rash of stoplights on State Road 37 and a flurry of pre-game traffic for the Old Oaken Bucket clash, the drive was a breeze. Cherí had never been to West Baden Springs. So the beautifully...
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What's new is old for Brooks: Former U.S. attorney finding familiar ground in Ivy Tech positionsRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Tracy Donhardt
Susan Brooks seems to have returned to her roots in her new role with Ivy Tech Community College. The former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana began Oct. 1 leading the post-secondary educational institution's work force and economic development functions, as well as becoming its general counsel. Brooks spent her growing-up years in Fort Wayne watching her father, a high school teacher and football coach, push his students and players on the football field and in the classroom....
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Leader program builds following: Center for Leadership Excellence set to welcome third class of execsRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Scott Olson
Ten times a year, for 24 hours, a select group of executives leaves the comforts of career to embark on an experience meant to mold the participants into better leaders. They gather on Thursday evenings for dinner, bunk overnight at a hotel, and spend the following day listening to the likes of Dennis Perkins, author of "Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition." Or, they may travel to Saint Meinrad in southern Indiana...
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INVESTING: Long slide of U.S. dollar has many repercussionsRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Ken Skarbeck
Few economic topics get more complicated than those about the U.S. dollar. The interrelated causes, effects and ramifications of changes in the value of the U.S dollar can make anyone's head swim. Because the dollar has been the "reserve currency" for the world-the currency held in store by foreign central banks and used to settle economic trade in things like oil-the prolonged slide in the dollar's value is of concern to many around the world. For example, the greenback has...
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Ballard book favors positive, forceful leadership styleRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Peter Schnitzler
Students complained about Greg Ballard when he taught college business courses. The man they called "the Colonel" had strict rules and high expectations. Frustrated, undergraduates sometimes tried to go over his head. His boss, Indiana Business College administrator Marc Konesco, encountered them in his office. But students never got far. Konesco refused to overrule the Colonel's decisions. "I always said, 'That's his classroom,'" recalled Konesco, the college's vice president of marketing and enrollment. "His style was one where the students...
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Hancock developer's plan matures: Copper Leaf would be region's largest, most comprehensive senior housingRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Chris O\'malley
What started as Jim Brothers' search for an assisted-living facility for his mother could end up as the region's most comprehensive retirement "resort." The president of The Bradford Group, an Indianapolis residential developer, has been working several months to get the zoning he needs for Copper Leaf. The 177-acre community on the east side of McCordsville would be home to 400 to 600 residents and sport a nine-hole public golf course. About 30 acres would be set aside for restaurants,...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Tax reform to take center stage on Organization DayRestricted Content

November 19, 2007
Ed Feigenbaum
In this column 10 years ago, we told you that, typically, our "short" electionyear legislative sessions are swift and relatively sweet. With the biennial budget the priority of the long, odd-year sessions, significant fiscal matters are usually untouched in the short, even-year session. Major issues that threaten to divide often are left undebated as the two major political parties avoid issues making them look bad in the eyes of voters. Only a decade ago, lawmakers prepared to enter just such...
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FUNNY BUSINESS: Pushing my luck with two good trips to the BMV

November 19, 2007
Mike Redmond
Like a lot of people-which is to say, most Indiana residents-I have long greeted going to the license bureau with the enthusiasm customarily reserved for dental surgery. The difference, of course, is that you get drugs for your root canal, but not even a double helping of nitrous oxide could make a fun afternoon out of getting new license plates. Well, hold on to your hats. I had to go to the license bureau twice last month, once for a...
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