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Controversy continues to surround lawsuit filed by Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz

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Last week Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced she is suing all ten members of the Indiana State Board of Education for allegedly violating Indiana’s ‘Open Door’ law.

“She specifically believes that it was done without a notice to the public or the superintentendent, who is obviously not just a member of the state board of education but the chair, and she felt she needed to take legal action,” Daniel Altman, Press Secretary for the Department of Education, says.

In the week since, Indiana Attorney General filed a motion to strike down Ritz’s lawsuit. Ritz, a Democrat, says she will continue to pursue the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Office of Governor Pence, who is a Republican, said that, “Pence strongly supports the actions taken by the bipartisan membership of the State Board of Education to ensure the timely completion of last year’s accountability grades.”

In response to the lawsuit, four members of the State Board sent an open letter to Ritz. In the letter, the members request that Ritz drop the lawsuit. They also mention in the letter that, while Ritz claims to work on open communication, the members have been continually frustrated by unanswered requests, missed deadlines, and a lack of progress on critical education issues.

The State Board of Education is housed under the recently established Governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation. Lou Ann Baker, Director of External Relations for the Center, says that communication between the State Board and Superintendent Ritz, who is Chair of the board, has not been ideal.

“They found out about the lawsuit through the media,” Baker says, “There was concern among the members and all then of the members reached out to communicate to the superintendent.

In the letter, the members ask Ritz to drop the lawsuit and, “Put politics aside and come ready to put the interests of students, teachers and schools first.” Baker describes how the members felt when they learned about the lawsuit through the media, and why it’s important to move forward.

“The members were surprised and disappointed,” Baker says, “I think we’re wasting energy on this topic rather than the many educational topics that need to be completed, managed and need to move forward on behalf of students and educators in Indiana. Education is one of the most critical issues facing Indiana and everyone in the country today, and our board members strongly  believe it’s important to get on with business.”

While Ritz says the alleged meeting happened without her knowledge, members of the board claim the meeting never happened in the first place. Superintendent Ritz will continue to pursue the lawsuit in the weeks ahead.

 

By: Casey Kuhn

New rule voted into affect to curb prescribing addictive pain medications

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The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana voted last Thursday to adopt SB 246, a new rule for physicians who prescribe addictive pain medications to nonterminal patients.

Starting December 15th this year, physicians will be required to monitor certain patient’s history via the state’s drug monitoring system called INSPECT. Dr.

Deborah McMahan, health commissioner for the Fort Wayne Allen County Department of Health and Education Chair for the Prescription Test Drug Force, helped to create the new rules. According to McMahan, more people die from accidental drug overdose than motor vehicle accidents.

Furthermore, a large number of young people are experimenting with prescription drugs they find lying around.

“I think the CDC identified a few years ago that prescription drug abuse has become a very serious problem in terms of overdose deaths,” McMahan said, “By really looking at this issue, we figured out that we need to step back and look at the information we’ve learned about chronic pain and what works and formulate some rules to help us prescribe more safely for our patients.”

Physicians will now obtain a more detailed physical history, assess mental health, and consider a patient’s potential for addiction before prescribing certain pills.

Doctors and patients will also sign a treatment agreement, which will memorialize the goals of the treatment and provide information to patients about the medications.

McMahan says challenges remain for both doctors and patients.

“The greater challenge that as a country and as a culture and a community, we’ve learned to accept a lower standard of being asymptomatic instead of rather being functional and healthy,” McMahan says, “I think it’s going to be a challenge for patients because it’s far simpler for me to write you a prescription to be asymptomatic. For me to make you functional and healthy, the patient has to be an active participant. I don’t think we’ve always pushed that in the past as much as we’ll need to in the future.”

Despite all these changes, McMahan is optimistic about the new rules and the future of the community.

“We’ve received surprisingly little negative feedback about the new rules,” McMahan says, “Change is always hard, I understand, but once we start seeing this cycle of health and wellness and how positive it affects our lives, I hope that’s a momentum we can keep going.”

The state Medical Licensing Board also adopted a new rule giving the Attorney General’s Office the ability to more efficiently review physician records, regarding controlled substances.

Bloomington Council for Community Accessibility present annual accessibility awards

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The Bloomington Council for Community Accessibility presented their Annual Awards Ceremony on Monday night. The Bloomington Council for Community Accessibility present the awards every year to the people who helped make the community more accessible for people with disabilities.

Craig Brenner, Special Project Coordinator at the Community and Family Resources Department, says he considers the ceremony to be an educational tool.

“The broader goal is to make the community aware of the issues some disabled people still face,” Brenner says.

Brenner says the Council for Community Accessibility provides an open forum for the public year round, to discuss and collaborate on issues with local accessibility.

“We want the public to know that this council is open year round and anyone can participate,” Brenner says.

There were six awards presented at the ceremony: the Self-Advocacy Award went to Jessica Troxel, the Professional and Community Service Award went to Indiana Legal Services, the Business Service Award went to IU Campus Division, the Housing Service Award went to Cindy Fleetwood, the Kristin Willison Volunteer Service Award went to Rachel Roby, and the Mayor’s Award went to Katie Herron.

The next meeting will take place Monday, Nov. 25 at City hall.

IU Neal-Marshall Center to host Family Fun Night

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The Indiana University Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center is hosting their annual Family Fun Night next Friday, Nov. 8.

The event is geared towards students and individuals in the community who have children. Nichelle Whitney, an employee at the Culture Center, says that it started as a way to bring together students on campus. The Caribbean Islands is the theme this year and there will be activities for children.

The goal of the event is to provide a safe place for families to have fun, where they can learn more about the culture and services the Culture Center provides.

“Our main goal is to educate youth about the black experience here at the center,” Whitney says.

Family Fun Night is on Nov. 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m, at the IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

The event is free, and food will be provided.

Try hockey for free this Sunday at the Frank Southern Ice Arena

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The Frank Southern Ice Arena and the Bloomington Blades Youth Hockey Association is hosting ‘Try Hockey for Free Day’ this Sunday, Nov. 3.

Try Hockey for Free USA and other local Hockey teams put on clinics around the country to encourage kids, ages four to nine, to try youth hockey at a local rink. Alyson Baer, Ice Scheduler for the Bloomington Blades Youth Hockey Association, says it is a club team that is part of a league based in Cincinnati.

They serve children ages 5-13 years old. This clinic will give kids an opportunity to learn more about hockey, and to gain some hands-on experience.

Baer explains some of the things that the kids will participate in, as well as the goals of the clinic.

“The goals are just to expose kids to ice skating and hockey and if they want to pursue hockey further, we are here for them,” Baer says.

The ‘Try Hockey For Free Clinic is this Sunday from 11:30 to 1:30 pm, at the Frank Southern Ice Arena. Youth who missed the registration deadline to join a hockey team will be able to register at the clinic for the 2013 to 2014 season.

Gov. Pence names five women to serve on Indiana Commission for Women

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Five women were named by Governor Mike Pence yesterday, to serve on the Indiana Commission for Women.

Marta Pincheira of Franklin, Stephanie Moore of Newburgh, Kelly Perri of South Bend, Kayevonne Dailey of Fort Wayne, and the reappointed Patzetta Trice of Indianapolis will serve on the commission, effective immediately, until the summer of 2017.

Established in 1996, The Indiana Commission for Women works with governments and communities around the state on issues that affect women and their families.

 

 

Rep. Todd Young says he is not in the Tea Party, but some say his actions belie his words

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The finger of blame for the recent crisis in Congress, which caused a federal shutdown and a near debt default, has increasingly been pointed at Republican members of Congress, especially those associated with the Tea Party caucus.

Todd Young, our local representative in Washington since 2010, has often been associated with the Tea Party due to his supportive votes for their resolutions. He also has endorsements from many Tea Party associated organizations and financial backers.

During an interview with WFHB correspondent David Murphy during the Congressional deadlock, this association was raised with Representative Young.

“That characterization I know was not put forward with any ill intention, but I would depart from that,” Young said.

Paradoxically, he went on to say that he was an “independent-thinking and mainstream public servant” that listens to his constituents and feels that he represents their point of view well.

Representative Young went on to espouse bi-partisanism in Congress, and mentioned his membership in such a group in the House.

“I’m not a populist or rabble-rouser,” Young said, “I don’t question people’s motives. I’m looking for a bi-partisan solution. If along the way we could actually control healthcare costs while ensuring millions more people get access to healthcare, that would be great. However, my concerns are fiscal in nature and the threat that exists to our most marginal citizens by not solving these long-neglected issues require Presidential leadership.”

During a subsequent interview with Trent Deckard, Chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party, Representative Young’s association with the Tea Party was also raised.

While Young denies any association with the Tea Party, local Democrat Party Chair Trent Deckard sees things differently.

He draws attention to Young’s voting record in the House for evidence.

“He sure votes a lot with the Tea Party, even if he says he’s not in it,” Deckard said, “It can’t be lost that we got to this point because they have held out and that nothing short of completely eliminating the Affordable Care Act is acceptable. His record reflects that. He claims that he’s in a group called the ‘No Labels’ but his record and his votes don’t match that.”

Deckard also brought up the favorable impact Representative Young’s more recent votes had on some Tea Party initiated bills, which precipitated the shutdown of federal government services and the near debt default.

“We expect better of him, he’s a smart guy,” Deckard said, “I hope that he uses this opportunity to get in there and make a change. Voters are increasingly wary of it and we hear every day from folks who are fed up with it. This is Todd Young’s chance to get it right.”

While this crisis in government has passed, it may come up again. The continuing resolution, which allowed for the reopening of federal offices, runs out in early 2014.

Similarly, the Obama administration will soon have to go back to Congress to seek a raising of the debt limit in order to avoid a default.

The Strike Mic – October 29, 2013

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This week on the Strike Mic, a music and information session during the Indiana University Board of Trustee’s meeting is met with a high volume of Indiana University Police. Members of the group felt the police presence was unwarranted, and signals a growing trend of intimidation towards those who express dissent towards IU administration.

Tune in every Tuesday for a new edition of The Strike Mic, a weekly update from your neighbors working to strengthen the voice of IU students and staff.

Local NAACP branch to sponsor open forum about the War on Drugs

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Bloomington’s NAACP branch continues to take on the War on Drugs, and its effects on the local black community.

The branch will sponsor a second public forum on the war a week from Tuesday. The NAACP of Monroe County sponsored a first forum in April, during which some three dozen suggestions were generated to solve some of the negative effects of the War on Drugs.

The upcoming forum will consider three of the strongest of those suggestions at its second forum. William Vance, Jr. is president of the Monroe County branch of the NAACP.

“We want to send a message to the community, to law enforcement and anyone that has anything to do with the law that there is a definite disparity in the sentencing of individuals that commit drug crimes,” Vance says, “Why is that? We will get a feel from the community on whether or not the solutions we suggest seem workable.”

Former President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1971. The so-called war institutionalized and coordinated drug prohibition efforts on a federal level that began as far back as 1914.

Vance mentions Michelle Alexander’s bestselling book “The New Jim Crow.” In it, Alexander characterizes the War on Drugs as a war on young black men. Vance adds that an in-depth study conducted by the local NAACP branch indicated a pattern of discrimination against young black men moving through the Monroe County court system over the years.

He did say that in his nine years at the helm of the local NAACP, the number of overall discrimination complaints has fallen dramatically, inspiring him to declare Bloomington a relatively good place for blacks to live in.

Still, he says the nationwide War on Drugs has caused collateral damage locally.

“Once you’ve been arrested for a drug offense, whether you’re in there for a year or ten years, it’s almost impossible to assimilate back into society because it’s even more difficult to get a job,” Vance says.

The forum with be held in the Bloomington City Council chambers on Tuesday, November 5, at 7 p.m. Free parking is available in the City Hall lot on North Morton Street.

Eight Medical Corp. relocates offices to Bloomington

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Eight Medical Corporation has relocated its offices from St. Paul, Minnesota to Bloomington. The company is a medical device distributor. Its main device called the Recirculator Eight Point Zero, used to treat cavities.

Dana Palazzo, project manager for Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, says quality of life was a huge factor for the corporation choosing Bloomington.

“If the word gets out that better businesses are coming here to Bloomington, because of the business climate and the tax environment,” Palazzo says, “More businesses will look at Bloomington when they’re choosing relocation.”

Despite the fact that Eight Medical Corporation only has a small office with two full-time employees locally, Palazzo says it still diversifies the community.

“Any new business to Bloomington is a great success,” Palazzo says, “We have pretty robust and diverse industry in the life sciences, from medical devices to pharmaceuticals. New business adds to the knowledge base we have here.”

This move comes as part of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation’s effort to improve the local life science community.

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