MICKEY MAURER Commentary: Looking back at 2004 and beyond

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Commentary Looking back at 2004 and beyond

Every January, I like to reflect on some of the prior year’s topics. This year, I am especially nostalgic. You may be reading my last column.

I have accepted a two-year hitch with the Daniels administration as president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and our editors at the Indianapolis Business Journal feel writing a column poses a conflict of interest with my new responsibilities. I agree.

Last summer, I reviewed “That Black Men Might Live,” the autobiography of the Rev. Charles R. Williams (June 21). The message was clear: “Talk with your physician about prostate cancer.” Shortly after that column appeared, we lost the Rev. Williams. I miss him.

I advocated passing a comprehensive ordinance mandating that all public places and workplaces, including bars and restaurants, be smoke-free (Aug. 30). Why shouldn’t our food-service employees enjoy a smoke-free environment like the rest of us? Indiana has one of the highest lung cancer mortality rates in the nation and we have an opportunity to do something about it. An ordinance is to be introduced to the City-County Council after the first of the year. The fight goes on.

At Mickey’s Camp last year, we were honored by the presence of one of the most powerful men in Washington, Sen. Richard Lugar (Sept. 13). At the conclusion of Lugar’s speech, camper Alex Nelson saluted Lugar as a champion of freedom. Nelson, who immigrated to Indiana from Russia about 20 years ago, recognized and thanked Lugar for his advocacy for free immigration. Nelson gave him an old-fashioned Russian bear hug before an assemblage that provided a standing ovation. It was a special moment.

Pat Pritchett’s trickle-down theory was the subject of the Sept. 27 column. Pritchett, Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent, is in a schoolyard brawl to issue bonds to pay for the next phase of upgrading IPS facilities. He found success the first time by holding a meeting in an un-air-conditioned classroom. While watching sweat trickle down the shirts of the blue ribbon committee, he obtained approval to finance the air-conditioning of our schools. In 2004, he reconvened the committee in a windowless lecture hall at the old Howe High School. Mysteriously, although the lecture hall is air-conditioned, the unit was not operating that hot afternoon. His trickledown theory worked again. Subsequent to that column, opposition has arisen. Let’s hope Pritchett is able to complete the new bond issue and the next phase of his plan.

I wrote about Sharlene Ramsey (Oct. 25), whom I literally bumped into. She is a courageous mother whose son, Dean, died in an automobile accident. Dean’s corneas, heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and bone were all donated and she became a spokeswoman for the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization. Response to the column was heartwarming. I was pleased to learn that some of our readers became organ donors.

Almost seven years ago, I wrote my first column for the Indianapolis Business Journal. In it, I thanked Tom Binford, who had recently resigned after, coincidentally, seven years of writing columns for IBJ. Unfortunately, less than a year later, I wrote his eulogy in this column.

I am fortunate that the editors of IBJ asked me to write a column. Giving up the column is a difficult sacrifice in order to work for the state of Indiana and for the man I believe will ably lead our state.

I’m greatly indebted to Ann Finch, copy editor, for her enthusiasm, loyalty and outspoken criticism of my work. I will dearly miss our collaboration. Thank you for reading my column and for responding. I have enjoyed our dialogue. Make a note of my e-mail address and stay in touch.

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.comor go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.com.

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